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Wells Fargo sues private security regulator in raging licensing row

 Wells Fargo moved to court, arguing the regulator has been silent for two years on its application for a licence and had further excluded it from the list of compliant private security firms published on January 10, this year. [File, Standard]

The High Court has declined to compel the private security regulator to issue American-based firm Wells Fargo with a temporary licence to operate in the country.

Justice Jairus Ngaah said Wells Fargo could not justify why it stayed quiet for two years after Private Security Regulatory Authority (PSRA) declined to process its application.

Wells Fargo moved to court this week, arguing the regulator has been silent for two years on its application for a licence and had further excluded it from the list of compliant private security firms published on January 10, this year.

However, Justice Ngaah ordered the company to serve PRSA and appear before him to argue whether it should get a temporary licence or not.

“The prayer for interim relief at this stage is refused. The applicant is ordered to file and serve the substantive motion within seven days of the date of this ruling. The respondent shall file and serve the response within seven days of the date of service of the applicant’s motion,” Justice Ngaah ruled.

In its case, the security firm told the court that on March 20, 2020, it applied for a licence but has not received a reply to date.

According to the firm, it is now two years and 10 months without communication from PRSA.

“The respondent’s failure and or refusal to issue the applicant with a licence under the Act or to communicate whether the applicant’s licensing application has been refused for a period of two years and 10 months is a violation of the applicant’s constitutional right to administrative action and expeditious, efficient, lawful, reasonable and procedurally fair process as enshrined in Article 47 (1) of the Constitution of Kenya,” said Wells Fargo lawyer Lawson Ondieki.

According to the firm, it received emails from some of its clients that PRSA had gazetted licensed private security firms on January 10 but its name was not among them.

Risk of job losses

“The applicant’s customers are requesting confirmation that the applicant is licensed to continue engaging the applicant to provide private security services,” the firm claimed adding that its more than 3,000 employees are at risk of losing their jobs.

Ondieki continued: “There is a risk that the applicant’s customers will terminate their contracts with the applicant due to failure to provide a licence to operate as a private security services provider.” Wells Fargo’s Managing Director Richard Garth told the court that the firm was incorporated in 1977 and has over 45 years of experience as a major security private firm. According to him, its annual turnover is approximately over Sh1.8 billion a year and majorly offers guarding, alarm services, cash-in-transit services, closed circuit television and access control solutions.

Garth stated that the firm followed up on the status of its application several times but PRSA has never communicated to date.

“I verily believe it is unfair and unreasonable for the applicant to be required to provide a licence to continue operating in business when the respondent has failed and or refused to give a decision on the applicant’s licensing application which was submitted in 2020 despite the applicant having complied with all the requirements of the Act,” Garth said. The case will be mentioned on February 1. 

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