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High Court stays LSK decision to recall senior lawyer list

By Kamau Muthoni | May 30th 2020

The High Court in Nairobi has barred the Law Society of Kenya from doing fresh interviews for lawyers interested in being ranked as senior lawyers.

Justice Pauline Nyamweya yesterday ordered LSK not to take any action following its recall of a list of 24 lawyers saying those affected by the decision had made a case to persuade her to intervene.

At least 22 lawyers led by Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka and former Justice Minister Martha Karua argue that LSK has no powers to quash or reverse a decision to confer them with the title.

“The leave so granted shall operate as stay to the implementation of the respondent’s decision to revoke the recommendation of the committee of senior counsel made on August 26, 2019 to confer the rank and dignity of senior counsel to the applicants,” ruled Justice Nyamweya.

Through their lawyer Chacha Odera, the 22 who include former Director of Public Prosecution Phillip Murgor, Rarieda MP Otiende Amollo and former Mombasa mayor Taib Ali Taib complained that LSK ignored orders from the court in a separate case which barred it from acting on any decision by a committee on senior counsel.

LSK said it was taking the drastic action to correct the mistake made by the committee on appointment of senior counsel which allegedly overlooked deserving candidates.

Same dispute

But its members now fault it, claiming the decision was unilateral and that LSK President Nelson Havi had a conflict of interest as he was representing lawyer Donald Kipkorir in the earlier case involving the same dispute.

Through a letter to the more than 10,000 members of the society, Havi said his team decided to revoke conferment of senior counsel ranks following complaints of impartiality and favouritism in the manner the 24 were selected.

“The LSK Council deliberated on the controversial nominations and resolved to set aside the decision made in August, last year, for conferment of 24 advocates to the rank of senior counsel. Their applications will be considered afresh with those who have applied this year,” said Havi.

Controversy emerged last year after the Committee on Appointment of Senior Counsel recommended the 24 names, which some lawyers challenged in court claiming the selection was skewed to reward some advocates.

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