Stand-Off in Court as Lawyers Refuse to Offer Services

  • The Embu Chapter of the Law Society of Kenya lawyers pose for a photo with former Chief Justice (Rtd) David Maraga.
    The Embu Chapter of the Law Society of Kenya lawyers pose for a photo with former Chief Justice (Rtd) David Maraga.
    File
  • Kenyans seeking legal representation are at risk of their cases stalling in court after all Embu lawyers handling pro bono, capital and child cases downed their tools

    The Embu Chapter of the Law Society of Kenya led by Duncan Okwaro started their strike on Wednesday, June 29, following months of a stalemate with law courts in the region. 

    Lawyer Okwaro noted that the courts owed the attorneys unpaid dues spanning over four years. 

    He cited several meetings with High Court officers led by the Principal Judge of the High Court whose agreements were not fulfilled. 

    undated image of Judiciary entrance of the Supreme Court building in Nairobi, Kenya
    Supreme Court building in Nairobi, Kenya
    File

    “We wish to refer to our various meetings regarding payment for Pauper Briefs including our Meeting with the team from the High Court led by the Principal Judge of the High Court, during which we were promised that payments would be made before the close of the Financial Year. 

    “We note that the financial year closes on June 30, 2022, and as at the date of this letter, our members have not been paid. This is therefore to inform you that our members have resolved to down their tools for all pauper briefs in all courts until such a time that the outstanding payments shall be settled in full,” Okwaro stated in a letter seen by Kenyans.co.ke

    Article 52 of the 2010 Constitution gives every accused person the right to be represented during the trial process. 

    Okwaro in his letter underlined that an advocate would typically handle at least six pro bono cases a year. 

    Pro Bono payment for lawyers according to the judiciary finance processes, he noted, should be made in two installments: one after the first appearance and the balance after completion of the brief. 

    “An Authority to Incur Expense (AIE) is then issued to the station to process claims. For an AIE to be issued the money is already available in the accounts for the payment. 

    “We highly regret that it has come to this, but we sincerely do hope that you understand our position,” the advocate wrote on behalf of the Embu Chapter of the Law Society of Kenya.

    The protest is set to attract the attention of the Judiciary, especially after  Chief Justice Martha Koome directed court heads to fast-track and conclude all pending cases.

    Chief Justice Martha Koome reading her ruling on the BBI Appeal at the Supreme Court on March 31, 2022.
    Chief Justice Martha Koome reading her ruling on the BBI Appeal at the Supreme Court on March 31, 2022.
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    Speaking at the Supreme Court Building on September 16, 2021, the CJ stated that her vision for the Kenyan Judiciary was deliberate: a path of societal transformation, change and accountability for results.

    “The Judiciary will take charge of all matters filed in court. The next decade will phase out phrases like adjournment or stood over generally among other case backlog enabling vocabularies and actions,” she said upon assuming office that year.