Power struggles at the Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) are raging on, as two factions of directors now fight over control of a court case that was determined in 2017.
A case filed by Kiru Tea Factory chairperson Chege Kirundi in 2017 has become one of the battlefronts, as the two factions fight over authority to appoint lawyers to represent the KTDA in the suit.
Mr Kirundi unsuccessfully sued to reverse a KTDA dispute resolution committee decision in 2017. The KTDA was in that suit represented by Milimo Muthomi & Company Advocates.
The Kiru chairperson was ordered to pay legal costs totaling Sh2 million in the suit. The proceedings had been active on account of attempts to recover the legal fees from Mr Kirundi.
He is one of the KTDA directors that were elected following an executive order for all tea factories to conduct elections.
Two courts in Nairobi and Mombasa had issued orders suspending the elections, but the process went on.
In October 2021 the faction elected in the disputed elections attempted to have Waruhiu K’owade & Ng’ang’a Advocates take over KTDA’s representation in the suit filed by Mr Kirundi.
But the directors ousted in the disputed polls now argue that the Kirundi faction has no authority to appoint lawyers to represent KTDA because they were elected in a process that violated court orders.
They argue that the Kirundi faction is attempting to hijack the case so as to help the Kiru factory chairperson evade paying the Sh2 million legal bill.
“On October 4, 2021, when this matter was scheduled for mention for directions the firm of Messrs Waruhiu K’owade & Ng’ang’a Advocates sought to come on record and stated that they were pursuing an out-of-court settlement with a view of compromising the matter.”
“The impugned takeover and/or change of the respondents’ (KTDA) advocates on record is a calculated scheme and design to compromise the integrity and sanctity of the proceedings before this court, frustrate the course of justice as well circumvent the proper administration of justice,” Kennedy Omanga, one of the KTDA bosses ousted in the disputed election says in court papers.
Patrick Ngunjiri, who replaced Mr Omanga in the disputed polls argues that parties in court are at liberty to switch lawyers and that the KTDA board opted to bring in Waruhiu K’owade & Ng’ang’a Advocates.
“Under Order 9 rule 5 of the civil procedure rules of 2010 a litigant has the liberty to change advocates and once a notice of change of advocates has been filed in court and served upon the former advocates, the new advocates shall be deemed to be properly on record,” Mr Ngunjiri holds in his affidavit.
The two factions have been fighting in and out of court seeking control of the KTDA.