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Costs split parties in golf club’s posts suit

By Kamau Muthoni | December 19th 2018

A dispute over costs of a case filed by men protesting a court ruling granting women admission to a golf club threatens to scuttle mediation.

Directors of Limuru Golf Club appealed against a High Court decision that favoured three women challenging the bylaws that barred their participation in the club’s affairs.

The directors are willing to drop their appeal but on condition the women who sued over alleged discrimination forego costs given to them by court in 2014.

The High Court had ordered the club’s directors to individually shoulder the cost of the case filed by Rose Mambo, Martha Vincent and Caroline Ngugi.

Lawyer Charles Kihara, for the directors - Yassin Awale, Robert Barua, Peter Mungai, Erick Kimuri, Kagochi Kimuri, Victor Gichuru, Anthony Wangaru and Tom Waiharo - said his clients had learnt a bitter lesson on the changing world but maintained golf clubs countrywide were a men’s affair.

“Technically, we have a case, but socially, they are now a part of the club. All the clubs were structured for men. If the costs are waived, then we will withdraw the case,” said Mr Kihara.

He said the women should consider dropping their quest to be paid costs, Kihara said when the parties appeared before Court of Appeal judges Alnashir Visram, Roslyn Nambuye and Jamilla Mohamed.

He said they had sorted the gender issue, with one of the women currently holding a deputy chairperson’s position in the club.

Lawyer Phillip Murgor, for Ms Mambo, Ms Martha and Ms Ngugi, said his clients were pursuing costs because the directors refused to consider their plea for an out-of-court settlement.

“He thinks we owe them a favour, that is why they want us to forego costs and this is where we differ. The ladies incurred costs because of their actions. They might be playing golf together but individually, there are outstanding issues on costs. Where this matter has gotten, mediation will not work,” said Mr Murgor.

At the heart of the fight are amendments to the club’s by-laws, on December 18, 2012, which exempted female golfers from participating in its meetings and electing members of the golf committee.

The argument was that since the golf committee was a “male only affair”, only male members would participate in its activities and lady golfers only allowed to attend as guests.

The amendment followed an altercation between the directors and the three women.

Despite their protests, the directors met on December 22, 2012 and held elections, where women golfers were locked out.

On January 14, 2013 the board met again and passed a vote of no confidence in Mambo as the vice chairperson. She subsequently lost her position as the chairperson of the disciplinary committee.

Martha and Ngugi were suspended for three weeks and on January 22, 2013, suspended for six months and one month respectively for alleged misconduct.

The court had asked the parties to find an out-of-court settlement and in the event of a deadlock, they be heard the next year.

They filed a petition on March 12, 2013 challenging the decisions.

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