The Functions and Role of the Kenya Law Reform Commission

The role of the Kenya Law Reform Commission (KLRC) is very important. KLRC initially came up in 1982 through the Law Reform Commission Act (Chapter 3 of the laws of Kenya). The Constitution of Kenya 2010 expanded KLRC’s mandate under Clause 5(6) (b) of Sixth Schedule.

The role of the Kenya Law Reform Commission comes from three primary instruments of governance which also inform its establishment, structure, and operations. These instruments are the Law Reform Commission Act (Cap 3), the State Corporations Act (Cap 446) and the Constitution of Kenya 2010 (CoK2010).

The mandate of KLRC under these instruments falls into statutory and constitutional mandates. The statutory mandate is in the law that parliament passed to set up the Kenya Law Reform Commission. This law provides for its internal governance structure. The other law is the omnibus legislation governing the state corporation sector.

Specifically, KLRC derives its statutory mandate from Law Reform Commission Act (Cap 3) and State Corporation Act (Cap 446).

Since inception, KLRC continues to exist as the entity set up under the Law Reform Commission Act (Chapter 3 of the laws of Kenya).

Notably, the role of the Kenya Law Reform Commission has been on Kenyan laws. KLRC focuses on keeping all Kenyan laws under review to ensure they develop and reform systematically. This includes, in particular, integrating, unifying, and codifying these laws.

The reform involves eliminating anomalies, repealing obsolete and unnecessary laws, and generally simplifying and modernizing the laws. Therefore, the KLRC is the primary Law Reform agency in Kenya.

More so, part of its mandate is to offer technical legal advice to government agencies on the review of laws for which they take responsibility.

KLRC also has an onerous constitutional mandate of:

  • preparing all the new legislation required to give effect to the Constitution (2010) within specified timelines,
  • undertaking a detailed audit of all the existing over 700 pieces of legislation and harmonize them with the Constitution.

From inception, KLRC has operated as a department within the office of the Attorney General. However, upon the reorganization of government ministries and functions via presidential circulars Nos. 1 of 2008, the law reform function and the KLRC moved administratively to the Ministry of Justice, National Cohesion and Constitutional Affairs (MoJNCCA).

The Government funds the Commission wholly but with regular support from development partners.

The Role of the Kenya Law Reform Commission

The core functions of KLRC are under Section 6 of the Kenya Law Reform Commission Act 2013, which are to:

  • keep under review all the law and recommend its reform to ensure—
    (i) that the law conforms to the letter and spirit of the Constitution;
    (ii) that the law systematically develops in compliance with the values and principles enshrined in the Constitution;
    (iii) that the law is, among others, consistent, harmonized, just, simple, accessible, modern and cost-effective in the application;
    (iv) the respect for and observance of treaty obligations in relation to international instruments that constitute part of the law of Kenya by virtue of Article 2(5) and (6) of the Constitution;
    (v) keep the public informed of review or proposed reviews of any laws; and
    (vi) keep an updated data on all laws passed and reviewed by Parliament;
  • work with the Attorney-General (and the Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution which is now defunct) in preparing for tabling, in Parliament, the legislation and administrative procedures required to implement the Constitution;
  • provide advice technical assistance and information to the national and county governments regarding the reform or amendment of a branch of the law;
  • upon request or on its own motion, undertake research and comparative studies relating to law reform;
  • formulate and implement programmes, plans, and actions for the effective reform of laws and administrative procedures at national and county government levels;
  • consult and collaborate with State and non-State organs, departments, or agencies in the formulation of legislation to give effect to the social, economic, and political policies for the time being in force;
  • formulate, by means of draft Bills or otherwise, any proposals for reform of national or county government legislation;
  • upon request or on its own motion, advise the national or county governments on the review and reform of their legislation;
  • undertake public education on matters relating to law reform; and
  • perform such other functions as the Constitution, the Kenya Law Reform Commission Act, or any other written law may prescribe.

The composition of the Commission

The Commission should consist of―

  • a chairperson appointed by the President through an open and competitive process;
  • two members appointed by the Cabinet Secretary (responsible for matters relating to law reform) through an open and competitive process;
  • two members appointed by the Attorney-General;
  • a representative of the Attorney-General appointed in writing; and
  • a representative of the Cabinet Secretary (responsible for matters relating to law
    reform) appointed in writing;

The representatives of the Attorney-General and the Cabinet Secretary are ex-officio members of the Commission.

The members of the Commission appointed by and representing the Attorney General shall be officers from the Office of the Attorney-General and the respective State Department.

For more about the role of the Kenya Law Reform Commission, visit their website at klrc.go.ke.

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Meet The Author

George Githinji
Githinji comments on the current political and social issues in Kenya. He's passionate about devolved governance and public finance. He also manages the @UgatuziKenya twitter platform.

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