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Judge keeps off AFA suit against parts of tea law

TEA

Workers pick tea at a farm in Kericho. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • A judge has declined to join Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA) in a case challenging sections of the Tea Act saying the regulator does not have any claim in the case.
  • In a ruling, Justice Lucy Njuguna said the Tea Act 2020 established Tea Board of Kenya and all matters to do with regulation of tea industry had been bestowed on the board.
  • She added that transitional clauses further transferred all assets, liabilities and staff initially under AFA to the TBK.

A judge has declined to join Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA) in a case challenging sections of the Tea Act saying the regulator does not have any claim in the case.

In a ruling, Justice Lucy Njuguna said the Tea Act 2020 established Tea Board of Kenya and all matters to do with regulation of tea industry had been bestowed on the board.

She added that transitional clauses further transferred all assets, liabilities and staff initially under AFA to the TBK.

“I am persuaded by submissions that a joinder will impose a respondent on the petitioners whom they have no cause of action against that person,” the judge said.

The judge said apart from the board whose presence might be necessary in the case, she said the right party who ought to enforce any decision of the court is the Attorney General, being the chief government advisor.

“As rightly submitted by Mr (Benson) Millimo, the petitioners do not have any claim against the applicant,” she said.

AFA has sought to join the case filed by more than 50 tea factories from central Kenya saying it was a necessary party in the case, being the regulator in the tea industry.

In the application, AFA says the suspension of some sections of the Tea Act has crippled its functions besides affecting all the stakeholders in the tea value chain.

AFA said there will be no registration of the primary producers of tea, for protection by the board, after the suspension of Section 21(2) of the Tea Act on registration of small scale and medium size tea growers.

The authority said the suspension of Section 22 of the Act interferes with the democratic election of the tea factory board of directors based on a system of one grower, one vote and the gender equity in constitution of board of directors. The regulator also sought to challenge the suspension of Section 25 of the Act, which it argues interferes with the licensing of manufacturers of tea for sale thus leaving manufacturers of tea without any oversight authority.