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Companies

Tata Chemicals runs back to court after missing arbitration

John Munyes
Mining and Petroleum Secretary John Munyes. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Tata Chemicals Magadi Ltd, a multinational miner embroiled in a Sh17 billion land rate dispute with Kajiado County, has rushed back to court in a bid to quash an earlier ruling.

This comes after the soda ash company ignored a High Court order that directed the firm and the devolved unit to participate in an arbitration to resolve the stalemate.

The miner gave arbitration sittings ordered by former Kajiado High Court Judge Reuben Nyakundi a wide berth, saying the firm’s representatives were unavailable.

Justice Nyakundi had earlier rejected the company's assertion that the law the County was using to demand land rates was not properly enacted.

The company now wants the Court of Appeal to declare the county’s Finance Act invalid as prayed in its first petition, rendering the county government's claim on land rates illegal.

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It also wants Justice Nyakundi's order of May 3 directing the Ministry of Mining to midwife an arbitration between the parties set aside.

In arbitration meetings, Mining Cabinet Secretary John Munyes convened, which PS John Omenge chaired, only the county representatives appeared.

The company dispatched several regret letters, with the last correspondence saying it could only present itself from November 5, the day the six-month arbitration period ended.

Interestingly, this is the day the company moved to the Court of Appeal in Nairobi to challenge the High Court order.

The multinational, which extracts soda ash from Lake Magadi, had sued the devolved unit for claiming Sh14,000 for each acre of its 224,000 acres leased land.

The order had expressly stated that the arbitration process should determine the leased land, which was retainable by the county.

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