Economy

Uhuru’s directive on hiring private lawyers suspended

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Law Society of Kenya President Nelson Havi during an interview at the LSK's offices in Nairobi on March 2, 2020. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA | NATION MEDIA GROUP

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Summary

  • In a virtual meeting with 85 government chiefs on Tuesday, President Kenyatta barred CSs and State departments from contracting external lawyers, unless with written approval of the AG. The President also directed all government institutions that have filed court cases against each other to terminate them within 21 days.

The High Court has suspended President Uhuru Kenyatta’s order barring cabinet secretaries and State agencies from hiring external advocates unless approved by Attorney-General Kihara Kariuki.

In a ruling, Justice John Mativo said he was satisfied that the case filed by the Nairobi branch of the Law Society of Kenya, was merited.

The lawyers’ body said there was no public participation before the directive was made, whose effect was to terminate contracts of lawyers’ who were contracted.

The LSK through Senior Counsel Ahmednassir Abdullahi said there is no evidence that Mr Kariuki consulted them before the directive was made.

He said the decision is contrary to the Fair Administrative Action Act and there is danger that the scheme can be used to give work by basing it on ulterior considerations besides legal competency, capacity and other values such as competitive and cost-effective considerations.

Mr Abdullahi added that the directive might be used to ethnically profile lawyers according to “political pigeon-holes with a view to allocate work by another name other than merit”.

“Political and ethnic angles would be paramount in granting legal briefs and work i.e. list of tribes to be given work and a list of another not to be given work according to perceived tribal affiliation or opposition to the jubilee government would be the yardstick, in other words this would be a fascist exercise,” he said.