These traditional dispute settlement organs gradually evolved into tribunals and were accorded official recognition when the Native Courts Ordinance was promulgated in 1907. This ordinance established native tribunals which were intended to serve each of the ethnic groups in Kenya.
The Chief Native Commissioner had powers to set up, control and administer the tribunals. Similar African tribunals were established at the divisional level of each district.
The governor was authorised to appoint a Liwali (administrative official) in Mombasa to adjudicate matters in the Muslim community.
Appeals to the decisions of tribunals were filed with District Officers (DO), District Commissioners (DC), and Provincial Commissioners (PC) while the final appeal lay with the Supreme Court. Decisions made by administrative officers were subject to hindsight overview by the judiciary.