Facebook owner wants Kenyan ruling allowing it to be sued suspended


Facebook parent firm Meta has been sued in Kenya. PHOTO | AFP

Facebook owner Meta wants a ruling on a case filed by a South African who has sued the firm suspended, as it pursues an appeal contesting the jurisdiction of the Kenyan court to determine the matter.

Meta Platforms Inc and Meta Platforms Ireland Ltd told Justice Jacob Gakeri on Monday that it has filed a notice to appeal against the ruling, issued early this month and the application should be heard as a matter of priority before the court addresses any other matter.

Justice Gakeri in a ruling on February 6 declined to strike out the names of Meta from the case filed by South African Daniel Motaung, saying it was premature yet the case raises weighty issues.

Through Senior Counsel Fred Ojiambo, Facebook said the court failed to consider and determine the issue of whether the constitution and laws of Kenya have extraterritorial jurisdiction over foreign corporates having no presence in Kenya.

Dr Ojiambo argued that the court could only assume jurisdiction after granting Mr Motuang permission to do so.

The lawyer further argued that the South African failed to satisfy the procedural requirements so that the court might allow him to serve the foreign firms with offices outside Kenya. 

Meta has maintained that it had no contract between them and Mr Motaung and the question of the employer-employee relationship does not arise.

Mr Ojiambo said the South African was required to demonstrate to the court that he has a good cause against Meta and state the grounds upon which the application is made. 

“To impose the constitution and laws of Kenya on the 2nd and 3rd respondents would constitute a gross breach of the sovereignty of the laws of the 2nd and 3rd respondents domicile and an unlawful interference with the exclusive territorial jurisdiction of their respective states, particularly where the petitioners offers no compelling reason for this court to do so,” Joanne Redmond, the director and associate general counsel for Meta Platforms Ireland Ltd. 

Motaung’s lawyer Mercy Mutemi opposed the application arguing that once the court delivered the ruling, the matter was beyond it and the only avenue available for Facebook was the Court of Appeal. 

The lawyer said the case was coming up for hearing and entertaining the application by Facebook will only serve to delay the matter, yet it was filed under certificate of urgency in May last year.

Mr Motaung, a former Facebook moderator, sued the social technology company over a toxic work environment.

He was employed as a moderator by Meta’s local outsourcing company- Samasource Kenya EPZ ltd. He wants to be paid damages for his suffering in the six months he worked for the firm and for working extra hours without pay.

Meta wanted to be removed from the case, arguing that Kenyan courts do not have jurisdiction since the foreign corporations are not domiciled or trading in Kenya. 

But the court dismissed the case. 

“While striking out the petition against the 2nd and 3rd respondents is one of the options available to the court, as part of procedural justice, it would leave certain questions unanswered, perhaps to the detriment of the petitioner,” the judge said. 

The case will be mentioned on March 14. 

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