Economy

Judge’s case in Sh76mn NCBA ruling row set for Supreme Court

Justice Martin Muya

Justice Martin Muya.

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Summary

  • The Supreme Court will this morning hear a petition filed by High Court judge Martin Muya against recommendations to sack him over a ruling that saw NCBA Bank lose in Sh76 million in a loan dispute.
  • The reasons behind the ruling were issued five months later, which made it difficult for NCBA to appeal the Muya ruling and led to loss of the security for loans tapped by Kipsigis stores.

The Supreme Court will this morning hear a petition filed by High Court judge Martin Muya against recommendations to sack him over a ruling that saw NCBA Bank lose in Sh76 million in a loan dispute.

The apex court agreed to hear the appeal after the judge challenged the findings of a tribunal that found him guilty of gross misconduct, for delaying reasons behind his ruling that stopped the bank from auctioning 14 lorries used as security for a loan.

The reasons behind the ruling were issued five months later, which made it difficult for NCBA to appeal the Muya ruling and led to loss of the security for loans tapped by Kipsigis stores.

The judge has defended himself saying he ordered a ‘status quo’, which was to ensure that the possession of the lorries remained as they were, until further orders of the court. He said the orders did not allow Kipsigis stores to sell or dispose of the lorries.

The seven-member tribunal chaired by Justice Visram presented its report to President Uhuru Kenyatta on March 20, last year recommending his removal.

The tribunal concluded that Justice Muya was guilty of gross misconduct for delaying for five months, reasons for his ruling dated May 30, 2017 in a commercial row pitting Kipsigis Stores against NIC Bank.






According to the Tribunal, there was unjustifiable and inordinate delay by the Judge in delivering the ruling for the injunction of an application pending before him.

“The Tribunal is of the view that the Hon. Judge misconducted himself by delaying to deliver the reserved reasons with the result that access to justice was curtailed and specifically with respect to the Defendant,” the Tribunal said.

But through lawyers Fred Ngatia and Philip Nyachoti, the judge moved to the Supreme Court to challenge the decision arguing that he explained the delay because the file was missing.

In the High Court dispute, Alfred Kipkorir Mutai and Samuel Cheruiyot Mutai, both directors of Kipsigis Stores in Sotik, filed a case in September, 2016 against NCBA Bank.

The two sought a permanent injunction as well as declarations of non-indebtedness in respect of some 14 lorries, which were financed by the bank, through hire purchase agreements.

Evidence presented to the Tribunal was that the Bank advanced various credit facilities to Kipsigis Stores Ltd and entered into various agreements with its directors on various dates and in varying amounts.

But they fell into arrears and the lender sought to repossess the vehicles but they rushed to court and blocked the move. The Judge granted the injunction and the matter was adjourned on several occasions before the parties given a hearing date.

Justice Muya finally heard the matter and gave his ruling but did not give his reasons then. The parties were made to wait for five months and by then, some vehicles had been sold and the company placed under receivership over another debt to a different party.