Fred Ngatia: Court Cases That Shaped His Career

  • Senior Counsel Fred Ngatia during a past court session
    Senior Counsel Fred Ngatia during a past court session
    (COURTESY)
  • One of the most awaited interviews in the ongoing search for Kenya's next Chief Justice was that of Senior Counsel Fred Ngatia which ultimately happened on Tuesday, April 20.

    The interview did not disappoint as the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) engaged in a robust engagement with the veteran lawyer on a number of issues. 

    With 41 years of legal experience, Ngatia put his best foot forward to demonstrate why he was the best candidate for the CJ position. 

    He also took the panel through some of the landmark cases that he had worked on and which were instrumental in earning his reputation as a lawyer and the proprietor of one of Nairobi's top law firms - Ngatia & Associates.

    The Elemi Triangle

    From the outset, the Senior Counsel informed his JSC panel of his pride in helping Kenya add over nine thousand square kilometres of land at its border with Sudan.

    As a young student undertaking a master's degree in law from the London School of Economics (LSE), Ngatia did a dissertation on border laws that focused on the mineral-rich area that had been disputed over by Kenya and Sudan.

    His research work helped resolve the dispute on the borderlines and the net effect was that Kenya acquired an extra area of 9,680 square metres.

    Muruatetu case 

    Fred Ngatia represented Francis Karoki Muruatetu and Wilson Thirimbu, as they challenged the constitutionality of the death penalty.

    The basis for their argument was that sections 203 and 204 imposing the death penalty on persons convicted of murder breached the right to fair trial and denied convicts a fair trial.

    The supreme court agreed with Ngatia's client and declared the mandatory death penalty unconstitutional. 

    Presidential Petition cases

    In 2013, ODM Leader Raila Odinga moved to court to contest the win of President Uhuru Kenyatta. This was after Isaack Hassan, the then IEBC Chairman announced Uhuru's win by surpassing the required 51% of the total votes. 

    Ngatia represented Uhuru in the case and won. The supreme court verifies his win.

    He also represented the President in the 2017 presidential petition but lost after the Chief Justice David Maraga-led Supreme Court nullified the August 7 presidential poll. 

    Senior Counsel Fred Ngatia

    Judge Phillip Tunoi tribunal

    In 2017, Supreme Court judge Phillip Tunoi was suspended owing to bribery claims. The National Intelligence Service, released a report and sent it to the JSC Ombudsman. It had details of Tunoi receiving a bribe before making judgement on a case.

    Ngatia, who represented Tunoi, argued against the authenticity of the report, citing inconsistencies in the document. After a spirited fight, he won.

    High Court Judge Joseph Mutava

    The Senior Counsel represented the office of the Principal Secretary Industrialization in a case concerning a local cement manufacturer.

    Justice Mutava was facing a tribunal after he accused of meeting a director of the company prior to the ruling which was before him. 

    Ngatia testified in the case and the tribunal recommended Justice Mutava's removal. 

    An empty court room.
    An empty court room.
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