Kenya's pending bills in legal costs could shoot to Sh1.2 trillion if all the cases lodged against the Government are determined, Solicitor-General nominee Kennedy Ogeto told MPs yesterday.
Currently, the Government is required to pay Sh88 billion in matters which have since been settled by the courts.
Mr Ogeto made the revelation when he appeared for vetting before National Assembly’s Justice and Legal Affairs committee chaired by William Cheptumo (Baringo North).
He was nominated to replace former Solicitor-General Njee Muturi who was moved to State House as Deputy Chief of Staff.
“Kenyan Government is currently a defendant in no less than five large international arbitration proceedings involving billions of dollars. Should the Government lose in any of these proceedings, the effect on the economy would be significant,” he said.
“The matter of the pending bills is serious. I intend to engage the National Treasury to have the bills settled,” Ogeto said.
Mr Cheptumo asked him how he was planning to deal with the matter without any form of conflict of interests since some of the judgments were involving his clients in private practice.
He blamed the pending bills on lack of proper coordination between the Attorney General’s Chambers and other Government agencies as well as lack of competent state counsel.
“It is possible that some of these claims could have been avoided if there was proper coordination between the various contracting Government agencies and the office of the Attorney General,” he said.
“I am aware that the turnover of the legal staff at the Attorney General’s Chambers is extremely high."
The Solicitor General nominee regretted that the AG’s office has become a training ground for young lawyers who move on to private practice, the NGO world or to other more rewarding environments.
Mr Ogeto assured the vetting team that if appointed he will engage relevant Government agencies to ensure the office retains competent and experienced staff.
Moving forward, he promised to reduce litigations against Government through cooperation with other agencies and strict compliance with the Office of Attorney General Act.
“To achieve this, it will be important to ensure that there is strict compliance with section 19 of the Office of Attorney General Act that obligates all Government agencies to seek the opinion of AG on all matters raising substantial legal and Constitutional issues,” he explained.
The nominee represented President Uhuru Kenyatta in the two presidential petitions after the August 8 and October 26 elections last year.
The lawyer was also in Kenyatta’s team at The Hague during the International Criminal Court case, where he was charged alongside his deputy Willaim Ruto over crimes against humanity in the 2007/2008 post-election violence.
The vetting was skipped by the National Super Alliance MPs except for Borabu MP Ben Momanyi.
The president’s nominees, who have since been vetted by the Jubilee-dominated National Assembly, have all been passed by Parliament and subsequently appointed to their positions.
The committee has gone on a retreat to write its report which it will table when MPs resume from their short recess on March 13.