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Agency accuses lawyers of failure to remit clients money

 A 14 seater matatu collides with a truck at Ndii along the Nairobi- Mombasa Highway. [File, Standard]

A section of lawyers representing accident victims in Mombasa county fail to pay claims awarded to their clients.

National Legal Aid Service (NLAS) regretted that most accident victims end up not getting their compensation due to lack of transparency from the insurance companies and sometimes, lawyers have been accused of remaining silent about the compensation and pocketing the monies.

NLAS said they have received numerous complaints from accident victims accusing their lawyers of going silent on the court awards.

NLAS chairperson Musyoki Kimanthi noted that the victims are left in the dark after being awarded damages, despite spending years in courts seeking compensation.

“Most of the clients are complaining about their advocates who are unwilling to remit what was awarded by the courts. Not all advocates are involved but there are those handling road accident claims where they take the case up to conclusion and fail to enlighten the clients who come to us complaining that the court said 'I should get this and that' but the advocate is not being fair,” said Kimanthi.

Speaking during the  NLAS sensitisation meeting with locals on access to justice for the poor in Tudor, Mombasa county, he said they have been forwarding the victims' complaints to the Advocates Complaint Commission which is under the Attorney General's office.

Leah Kahindi, a complainant said she was awarded Sh500,000 by the court but she is yet to receive the monies.

She said the lawyer representing her went silent after the court award.

"I have been in the court corridors for years and after the judgment, the lawyer who was handling my case went mute. l followed up and learnt that l had been awarded Sh500,000 which I am yet to receive. l have today filed my complaint following the advice of NLAS," said Kahindi.

Kimanthi said they are conducting a nationwide sensitisation of NLAS services to persons who cannot afford legal fees.

"We are here today to advise the locals who cannot afford legal fees on the channels they can use to get justice through NLAS. We have been forwarding their complaints to the commission to have the lawyers investigated over professional misconduct," he said.

He noted that the rampant complaints registered in Mombasa included land and succession disputes.

Kimanthi said in Eldoret, there are many child custody cases registered with more than 250 cases reported in their offices.

He disclosed that they have also been visiting prisons teaching those on pretrial about self-representation and seeking cash bail or bond.

“We are trying to reduce the people in pretrial detention where you are arrested and taken to court and the average time it takes to hear the case is between two to three years or more and some stay in custody for all that time only to be told they are not guilty,” said Kimanthi.

The NLAS chairman noted that the government spends Sh18 million every day to cater for 60,000 prisoners in detention and those convicted.

Kimanthi said it costs the government Sh1.2 billion annually to feed the inmates in prison. “The state spends Sh300 per day to keep somebody who is on pretrial detention. Now the prison population is at 60,000 multiplied by Sh300," he said.

"Out of the prison population, only 20,000 are on actual pretrial. We can save up to Sh6 million a day and over Sh500 million if we grant bail to most of those on pretrial pending judgement,” he added.

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