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State ordered to pay firm Sh11b in land dispute

By Isaiah Lucheli and Lucianne Limo

The Government has been ordered to pay more than Sh11 billion to a company for blocking it from using a piece of land in Embakasi for 25 years.

High Court judge David Majanja on Monday ordered that the Government pay Orbit Chemicals Industries Sh6.015 billion plus interest, which amounts to Sh11.4 billion.

This is the highest amount the Government has been slapped with by a court for registering illegal caveats by the Ministry of Lands on privately owned land.

Justice Majanja was reading a ruling written by Court of Appeal Judge Roselyne Nambuye, who has since been declared unfit by the Judges and Magistrates Vetting Board, but has sought a review of the verdict.

The figure was arrived at after a Government economist, mandated to enter into out of court talks with experts acting for the chemical company reached a compromise to have the company paid the amount instead of the Sh18 billion it had sought as compensation for non-utilisation of the 90-acre piece of land.


The Attorney General directed that the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance releases the amount to the chemical company, but he declined saying the award was inflated  and the matter went back to court.

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Orbit Chemical Industries Limited had sued the State claiming that its property rights were denied through a caveat imposed by the Registrar of Titles on September 28, 1987, which prohibited the company from all dealings with the land.

Through their lawyer Mathew Oseko, the company averred that due to the caveat imposed on the title, the land remained unoccupied and was thereafter invaded by squatters.

“The continued stay of the squatters prohibited the company from dealing with the land and we ask the court to hold the Government liable in law for the loss of user income and possession of the property,” Oseko had submitted.

Oseko told the court that on January 14, 2000, the Commissioner of Lands admitted there was no reasonable ground for the registrar of titles to register a caveat against the land.

The lawyer, however, disclosed that ten years down the line it had been impossible for his client to have the caveat deregistered as the file had been missing from the Ministry of Lands.

In his ruling, the judge said the Government did not have grounds for refusing to pay the money.

“The defendants cannot claim to hide under an allegation of the figure was inflated when in fact it had been greatly reduced from the initial figure of Sh18 billion. Allowing this assertion to stand will amount to leaving the proceedings in an embarrassing position contrary to the rules of the game of litigation whose aim is to assist parties resolve their disputes,” said Justice Majanja.


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