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Relief for lawyers in senior counsel title fight

Friday May 29 2020
karua

Martha Karua who has applied to join the prestigious committee of Senior Counsel. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By MAUREEN KAKAH

Wiper party leader Kalonzo Musyoka, Narc Kenya’s Martha Karua and 20 other lawyers have won the first round of their battle to join the coveted rank of senior counsel.

The Law Society of Kenya on May 13 had revoked the recommendations of the Committee on Senior Counsels to confer the rank to 24 lawyers in a move that saw affected lawyers move to court.

High Court judge Pauline Nyamweya Friday temporarily suspended LSK’s decision.

“It would be prudent that the current status quo be maintained pending the confirmation of the legality or otherwise of LSK’s action to revoke the conferment of the senior counsel status to the applicants. The stay orders sought are accordingly deserved,” said Justice Nyamweya.

She also ruled that the suit filed by the 22 lawyers, including Mr Musyoka and Ms Karua, against the LSK meets the threshold of an arguable case.

Other prominent lawyers fighting for the title are deputy director of public prosecutions Dorcas Odour, family lawyer Judith Thongori, former chief executive of the defunct Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission Patricia Nyaundi and Mr Kioko Kilukumi.

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Veteran lawyers Fred Ngatia, Albert Mumma, Pravin Bowry and renowned arbitrator John Ohaga as well as former DPP Phillip Murgor are also among those whose conferment was revoked too.

Their lawyer, Mr Chacha Odera, told the court that the 22 are challenging the jurisdiction or authority of LSK to revoke the decision of the Committee on Senior Counsel made on August 26, last year, recommending their conferment.

They are also challenging the legality of the impugned decision considering the fact that there is another pending case on the matter hence violates the rule on sub judice.

The aggrieved lawyers said the revocation is contrary to the right to fair administrative action Act.

The pending case was filed by lawyer Donald Kipkorir in September 2019 seeking to stop the committee responsible for selecting lawyers to the said rank from forwarding the list to President Uhuru Kenyatta following his exclusion.

The committee comprises of a judge of the Supreme Court, one from the Court of Appeal, High Court and a magistrate, the Attorney-General, the President of LSK, three senior counsels and two advocates with at least 10 year’s experience.

A notice by LSK inviting applicants for the said rank was put out on January 2018 and applications were to be submitted by March 29, 2019.

The case will be mentioned on July 6 and LSK has been asked to respond to the suit.

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