Shadrack Mose sworn in as Solicitor General

Solicitor General Shadrack John Mose took oath of office at State House Nairobi on Monday, 20th March 2023. [Twitter: @WilliamSRuto]

Former Kitutu Masaba parliamentary aspirant Shadrack John Mose has been sworn in as the new Solicitor General.

The swearing in ceremony took place on Monday, 20th January 2023 at State House Nairobi.

The short ceremony was witnessed at State House by among others, President William Ruto and Attorney General Justin Muturi.

"We acknowledge the supremacy of the Constitution and submit to the letter of the law. Nothing extra-legal will be part of what we do as a nation. Witnessed the swearing-in of Solicitor General Shadrack Mose at State House Nairobi; urged him to offer leadership and ensure the Government gets the right legal advice," said Ruto.

The President had nominated Shadrack Mose a month ago.

In the 2022 election, Mose vied for the Kitutu Masaba parliamentary seat on a United Democratic Alliance (UDA) party ticket but was unsuccessful.

Mose takes over from renowned lawyer Kennedy Ogeto who has served for a five-year-term.

Ogeto was appointed to the position by former President Uhuru Kenyatta in March 2018.

On November 1, 2022, the Public Service Commission invited applications for the position through print media and the Commission's website. After the November 14, 2022 deadline, there were only 18 applications. Eight candidates were shortlisted and interviews were conducted on December 13 and December 14, 2022.

Functions of a Solicitor General

The office of the Solicitor General has always been a stepping stone for higher aspirations in the legal hierarchy. In Kenya the office of the Solicitor General and that of the deputies is provided for under the Office of the Attorney General Act No. 49 of 2012, Laws of Kenya.

"A person shall be qualified for appointment to the office of Solicitor-General if the person- is qualified to hold the office of judge of a superior court under the Constitution; and meets the requirements of Chapter Six of the Constitution," the article reads.

The Solicitor-General assists the Attorney-General in the performance of the duties of the Attorney-General.

The place of the Solicitor General in law

The fused legal profession in Kenya has never drawn a distinction between solicitors and barristers as in England but we do have a Solicitor General in Kenya, perhaps the least appreciated legal office in the republic.

Most interestingly, since independence we have always had a Solicitor General despite there being no mention of the office in the 1962 or the 2010 Constitution.

The usefulness or otherwise of the Solicitor General can be gauged from Commonwealth countries and our African neighbours. In England, the Solicitor General must be an elected Member of Parliament. The US, Australia, New Zealand and India are some other countries with Solicitors General.

Closer home, Uganda, Malawi and Gambia are some of the African countries with Solicitor Generals with South Africa debating recently on the merits of having a Solicitor General and Tanzania abolishing the office.

Kenya's first Solicitor General was Ben Lutta who later became a judge of the Court of Appeal. Other names that mirror the importance of the office are former Chief Justice the late Kitili Mwendwa, advocate A.S.T. Aswani, retired Justices Kubo and Ringera, and now Njee Muturi.

Section 9 of the Act establishes the position of the Solicitor General while section 13 underscores formation of the position of deputy and deputies.

By law the Solicitor General assists the Attorney General in the performance of the duties of the Attorney General. It must be noted that the Attorney General's docket carries perhaps the most onerous basket of duties even after the new constitution took the prosecutorial duty away from the office.

To appreciate the role of a Solicitor General it is first important to briefly highlight the duties of the Attorney General.

The Attorney General is the principal legal adviser to the Government and represents the national government in court or in any other legal proceedings to which the national government is a party, other than criminal proceedings.

Other duties include co-ordinating reporting obligations to international human rights treaty bodies; drafting legislative proposals for the government; and reviewing and overseeing legal matters pertaining to registration of business names, companies, partnerships, societies, marriages, adoptions, and charities

Aside from assisting the Attorney General the Solicitor General has several other duties among them to conduct, or assign and supervise all court cases, including appeals or petitions on behalf of the Attorney-General and subject to Article 234 of the Constitution, be responsible for the discipline of state counsels and other members of staff of the office.