Flamboyant lawyer Donald Kipkorir’s Sh1.3 billion legal fee note to City Hall sparked both outcry and celebration with the lawyer fiercely defending it.
A certificate of taxation for a matter handled in the Environment and Land Court in Miliamani in circulation showed Kipkorir’s law firm- KTK Advocates billing Nairobi City county government a modest sum of Sh1,338,011,582.76.
Diana Orago, a deputy registrar in the court certifies the amount as the bill of costs lodged by the firm on October 1, 2020. The amount was taxed on May 10, 2022, as costs incurred in Miscellaneous Application No. E056 of 2020.
“Are they saying The Advocates (Remuneration) Order that regulates fees be ignored? Are they saying we ignore established case law on computing legal fees?” Kipkorir posed, as disbelief over the amount rent the air.
The Advocates (Remuneration) Order enumerates the manner of computing a lawyer’s fee as it relates to their involvement in sales, purchases and securities, leases and agreements for lease of land, company formations, incorporations and registrations, trademarks, estates, patents, designs and utility models.
For instance, for their facilitation in sales and purchases affecting land, lawyers fee is calculated cumulatively on the basis of the consideration or value of the transaction. At the lowest level of the five scales of payment in land matters, if the value of the transaction is between Sh1 and Sh5 million, a lawyer is to be paid 2 percent of the value or Sh35,000 whichever is higher.
This amount reduces in percentage as the value climbs up to the last scale of consideration beyond Sh1 billion at 0.1 percent.
“Are people saying a son of Katarina, a village housewife from Cheptongei and whose deceased father was unknown outside the village can’t raise the highest fee Note in Kenya’s litigation History?
Lawyer Peter Wanyama came to his defence, citing the Advocates Remuneration Order and taxed by the Registrar. He said in the US, lawyers in big cities charge up to USD 2,000 per hour in complex cases and a retainer fee of USD 200,000. Late Senior Counsel Mutula Kilonzo once declared on national television that he was charging USD 200,000 an hour at his prime.
“Donald has been instructed in a case where the subject matter is huge. Really big. So he deserves his fees. The law also provides a mechanism to challenge fees by way of reference to the High Court. Judges have on many occasions reduced the taxed fees. They have also upheld bills taxed according to scale.
But many others were not so impressed. In Kipkorir’s wall, some like Boniface Nyamu claimed you only need ten such briefs as Kipkorir’s and the entire city annual budget for the development is gone.
Fridah Loyuiya joked that she now understands why Kipkorir does not take cellar cask. Don, as he goes, lives a full, unapologetic life, eating it with a big spoon.
“You deserve that life Don. You are working for it. Just show us the mountain you face while praying. Wueh! She said.
For Charles Yator, the lawyer deserves the amount, and he should even go for more.
Ahmed Kalebi however wants Don to share the full judgment of the case that won him the modest amount so that Kenyans can appreciate the context.