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KN Law LLP Becomes Kenya’s First Law Firm to Set-up a London Office

Mugambi Nandi was ranked in the 2021 Edition of Chambers Global Guide as one of the top Kenyan Corporate/M&A experts based abroad. Mugambi has been in London since 2019, when KN Law LLP set up its London Office at Berkeley Suite, 35 Berkeley Square, Mayfair, London, W1J 5BF.

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KN Law LLP

KN Law LLP has become the first Nairobi-based law firm to set up a branch and relocate one of its partners to London to coordinate its growing corporate, M&A and PE client base. The move is meant to foster better collaboration with London-based international law firms looking to engage a responsive local counsel in Nairobi.

The development has earned the recognition of Chambers which named the firm’s Senior Partner, Mugambi Nandi, now based in London ‘One of Kenya’s top Corporate M&A lawyers based outside the country.’ Mugambi has been cited and ranked by Chambers Global consecutively since 2017, as a recognized Corporate M&A lawyer in Kenya.

Mugambi Nandi was ranked in the 2021 Edition of Chambers Global Guide as one of three Kenyan Corporate/M&A experts based abroad alongside Clifford Chance LLP Partner, Jennifer Mbaluto (based in London) and Atiq Ajarwalla (based in Dubai). Mugambi has been in London since 2019, when KN Law LLP set up its London Office at Berkeley Suite, 35 Berkeley Square, Mayfair, London, W1J 5BF.

According to Chambers, “Mugambi Nandi focuses his practice on corporate and commercial transactions, including M&A and Private Equity investments, as well as corporate finance and listings. He’s also experienced in merger approvals and competition regulations.”

Speaking to Africa Legal, Mugambi Nandi explained the move to set up a KN Law LLP London office saying, “If you are in London with a corporate, commercial or M&A need in Kenya, you would struggle to get the work done without going through one of the big law firms, most of which are now tied in exclusive arrangements with law firms in London or South Africa. By being present in London, I believe we can offer the same service but in a simpler, and direct way.”

KN Law has advised as local counsel on several projects in partnership with London-based law firms. One was a deal involving a private equity fund financing a company in Kenya working with Hogan Lovells. KN Law was also engaged on establishment of a private equity fund in Mauritius co-advising with Goodwin Procter (London Office). The firm was also recently involved in a tech investment deal between a Kenyan and a European company, advising jointly with Harbottle and Lewis.

The firm is offering the all-important personal touch and presence to international law firms trying to find local counsel to partner with in East and Central Africa. It is also putting its relationships across the East African region including Ethiopia, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe at the disposal of clients who need support in these countries.

Potential clients within the UK and the rest of Europe no longer need to book flights or travel to meet people when they need legal work done in Kenya. KN Law’s Mugambi Nandi is just one call away and ready to have a meeting with clients in London (in compliance with covid-19 protocols). Mugambi Nandi is additionally working towards becoming a Solicitor of England and Wales by the summer of 2021 to deepen his already top-notch legal expertise.

At the same time, KN Law LLP has bolstered its Nairobi Head Office with the appointment of Mugambi Maingi (no relation) as the firm’s new Managing Partner. Mugambi Maingi is a seasoned legal practitioner with over a decade post qualification experience as regional legal counsel for the UAP Old Mutual Group. Mugambi is an Advocate of the High Court of Kenya and a Graduate of the Prestigious Strathmore Business School Aspire Leadership Training Programme.

“Mugambi Maingi brings to the firm a wealth of experience and expertise from the financial services industry and the Firm is very proud to welcome him. He has extensive experience in corporate law, M&A, compliance and governance, fund management, retirement benefits and capital markets,” said KN Law Senior Partner Mugambi Nandi while unveiling the new Managing Partner at the beginning of the year.

KN Law LLP is a specialist law firm helping and working with corporate clients in M&A transactions, legal and tax due diligence and advisory, corporate restructuring, capital markets, debt and equity transactions and complex real estate transactions in Kenya and across East and Central Africa.

Law Firms

Understanding the Legacy of Wealth: Intro to Transgenerational Estate Planning

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Welcome to the Just Legal Podcasts, brought to you by MNO Advocates LLP! We’re excited to kick off Season 3 with a compelling and insightful episode titled “Understanding the Legacy of Wealth: Intro to Transgenerational Estate Planning.” Join our host Liz Nderitu as she sits down with the senior partner at the firm, S. Okalle Makanda, for a candid and informative discussion on transgenerational estate planning.

In this episode, Liz and Makanda delve into the various aspects of estate planning, including the importance of creating wills, the implications of dying intestate (without a will), and the nuances of oral wills. With their engaging conversation, Liz and Makanda make the complex topic of estate planning accessible and even enjoyable, sharing a few laughs along the way. Whether you’re just starting to think about your estate plan or looking to update an existing one, this episode is packed with valuable insights and practical advice. Don’t miss out on this essential guide to securing your legacy and ensuring your wishes are honored across generations.

Be sure to subscribe to our channel, leave your thoughts and questions in the comments, and join the conversation on this vital topic. Hit that subscribe button, and let’s embark on this journey together! Subscribe to Just Legal Podcasts on YouTube and stay updated with our latest episodes.

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Youtube: @mnoadvocatesllp8070

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Website: https://mnolegal.co.ke/

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MNO Advocates LLP is a trusted boutique law firm delivering legal services tailored to the challenges and opportunities of the modern business environment. The firm are recognized leaders in Transgenerational Estate Planning, Commercial & Corporate, Immigration, Legal Audit & Compliance, Dispute Resolution, and Employment law. We help clients navigate legal complexities with confidence both regionally and internationally.

Founded by three lawyer friends who were passionate about their craft but frustrated by the legal landscape for Small and Medium-size Enterprises (SMEs), MNO Advocates LLP set out to address the challenges of navigating complex legalese, hefty fees from traditional firms, and lack of personalized attention. Ignited by a shared dream, the three founders built a different kind of law firm - one focused on relationships, providing affordable and creative legal solutions, and showing relentless dedication to helping SMEs thrive.

MNO advocates' expertise has continued to grow alongside their client base. They have sharpened their skills in areas critical to SMEs, including contract review, intellectual property protection, employment law, and dispute resolution. They have become champions for their clients, fiercely advocating for their rights and ensuring their legal needs are met efficiently and effectively.

Today, MNO Advocates LLP is a thriving force in the legal community. They have expanded their team with talented advocates who share their passion for helping SMEs and also leveraged technology to streamline processes and offer cost-effective services. We have set ourselves apart as the go-to law firm for clients in the creative industry as well as fintech companies.

Looking ahead, MNO Advocates LLP is committed to continuous growth and innovation. We stay at the forefront of legal issues affecting SMEs, adapting how we serve the constantly changing landscape. Our story is a testament to the power of fostering relationships.

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The Unfolding Scenario of Digital Lending Regulation in Kenya

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Digital revolution has paved way for financial inclusion in Kenya. This revolution has changed how Kenyans’ access money, borrow money and save/store money. The growth of financial access through technology, Fintech solutions, has provided financial intermediation between many Kenyans were either underserved or unbanked.

This has, in turn, led to the mushrooming of digital lenders and lending platforms, which have dismantled traditional barriers and reduced bureaucratic hurdles that previously hindered Kenyans from accessing credit.

Unfortunately, this ease of access to credit has come with an unbearable burden on borrowers. Kenyans have complained of:

  1. High default rates among digital credit borrowers, leading to severe implications for negative listings at Credit Reference Bureaus (CRBs);
  2. Defaults triggering aggressive loan recovery tactics, including calls made to borrowers’ social networks, such as families and friends, for repayment;
  3. The pricing of loans, particularly the ambiguous application of interest rates and onerous penalty rates that render loans unpayable; and
  4. Digital lenders serving as obvious avenues for money laundering.

There was therefore need to regulate this sector and a public outcry from Kenyans to be protected from digital lenders who were operating like shylocks.

This led the government to initiate regulatory and supervisory reforms for digital lending, and in 2021, the Central Bank of Kenya (Amendment) Act empowered the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) to license and oversee digital lenders. The Act refers to digital lenders as Digital Credit Providers (DCPs). Subsequently, in 2022, the CBK issued the Central Bank of Kenya (Digital Credit Providers) Regulations, which required all DCPs to apply to the CBK for a license.

ARE DIGITAL CREDIT PROVIDERS ONLY THOSE WHO LEND DIGITALLY?

Section 2 of the CBK Act states that;

“digital credit” means a credit facility where money is lent or borrowed through a digital channel;

“digital channel” means the internet, mobile devices, computer devices, applications and any other digital systems;

“digital credit business” means the business of providing credit through a digital channel;

“digital credit provider” means a person licensed to carry on digital credit business;

From a literal interpretation of this provisos, it can be easily assumed that any business that does not offer credit through digital channels is not a digital credit provider. The regulations also interchangeably use the word digital channel with the word platform.

This means that any lender who does not have a digital platform where Kenyans can apply for or receive a loan amount may of the considered view that they are not a digital credit provider. This interpretation led to many credit providers who still rely on non-digitized loan application forms and disburse funds through cheques or cash to not apply for the DCP License.

However, the question that begs is whether this literal interpretation aligns with the intention of the legislators when drafting the said provisos and regulations.

REASSESSING CBK’S OVERREACHING INTERPRETATION OF DIGITAL LENDING OVERSIGHT

Despite the literal interpretation that seems obvious from the reading of the legislation, CBK seems to take the mischief rule in interpreting these provisions. The mischief rule of interpretation means that CBK is looking at what the provision and regulation was meant to cure.

The effect of CBK’s interpretation is to bring every unregulated lender under its purview through licensing, regulation, supervision. Our opinion is based on the communication excerpt below from the Central Bank of Kenya.

We do not agree with this interpretation because it subjects all lenders to CBK supervision, regardless of their debt book, the nature of their lending, and the size of their debt portfolio. However, the Act and the regulations were meant to regulate businesses that lend through digital channels/platforms. While we disagree with this interpretation, the CBK has made it clear that businesses should not offer credit facilities without the required license. This position has not been challenged in court and thus remains the CBK’s stance.

MMW Advocates LLP is one of Kenya’s largest female-led law firms with a focus on positively impacting the commercial ecosystem with out-of-the-box solutions.

MMW Advocates was birthed from a different breed. A breed that believes that the law should not be rigid and uncompromising. Instead, it should be a tool for commercial solutions. For this reason, the firm’s rallying call is – Think Differently-Solve Innovatively.

It is no wonder that it has cultivated trust from Multi-National Corporations and the Public Sector with bold footprints in Africa, Asia, Europe, and North America.

MMW Advocates continuously sets the pace for emerging commercial laws and jurisprudence and is an ideal partner for any entity that is keen on being a part of Africa’s commercial development story.

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Law Firms

A Toolkit for Customers on accessing Financial Services in Kenya

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Financial service providers such as banks, SACCOS and other institutions offer customers products and services that empower them to manage and grow their financial resources. As part of our Initiative to raise Financial awareness during Global Money Week, 2024 we have summarized some of the matters Customers should consider when accessing financial services:

  1. Tariffs and Commissions

As with any business, Financial Institutions charge customers for their products and services. These charges, more commonly known as Tariffs and Commissions, are levied on the Institutions offerings, and are not limited to fees charged on transactional accounts, loan accounts, credit cards and the various channels customers transact across. Financial institutions are required to advise their customers about applicable tariffs they will pay for day-to-day running of the account. Customers should be aware that it is best practice for these Financial Institutions to notify their customers at least 30 days in advance or before material account changes are effected.

  1. Loans and Change of Interest or Profit Rates

Interest Rates that are charged when a customer secures a Loan with a Financial Institution may from time to time be reviewed by their Financial Institution. In such an event the Financial Institution should inform their consumer on the change the interest rates on accounts and should provide notice in line with standard notification practice. For Islamic banking customers on the other hand term “Interest” does not apply but rather Profit and as per Shari’ah Principles, once a contract of financing has been signed between the bank and the customer, none of these parties has the right to change the profit rate, regardless of the fluctuation of rates in the market.

  1. Rights to accurate reporting and confidentiality

In as much Customers do make a lot of effort to repay their Loans there are circumstances under which some Customers have often found that their details have been inaccurately published by the Credit Reference Bureau therefore being detrimental to any future borrowings. Customers however have the right to dispute any inaccurate information published by the Credit Reference Bureau, including incomplete or inaccurate information and there are laws and regulations on how to settle these disputes.

  1. Closure or Freezing of Accounts

Some Customers may experience the closure of freezing of accounts. It should be noted that unless there are exceptional circumstances, a bank should not suspend or close an account without giving the account signatory at least a 14 day notice. However, if the Bank is required to freeze the account in compliance with statutory requirements or legal obligation, a post freeze notice should be given to the customer promptly.

  1. Reporting on Unclaimed Financial Assets

Lastly, Financial service providers such as banks are required on an annual basis to hand over to the Unclaimed Financial Assets Authority any unclaimed deposits (cash, cheques, and other assets of financial value) that have not been accessed by the customer in over 2 years. Therefore, customers must ensure that they transact on their accounts so as to prevent their account from falling dormant. In conclusion, Article 46 of the Constitution of Kenya (2010) sets out laws and acceptable practices that the providers of goods and services should adopt when engaging consumers. In addition to the Constitution, the Consumer Protection Act 2012 prevents unfair business practices in consumer transactions. Both Financial Institutions as well as their customers should familiarise themselves with these laws.

About the Author: HMS Africa Advocates LLP is among the foremost innovative and full-service Law Firm in Kenya. The firm serves clients in diverse sectors and areas including Banking and Financial Sector, Real Estate and Construction, Corporate and Commercial Sectors and Litigation and Dispute Resolution. The firm  clients extend across the globe with a presence in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Ghana and Egypt. 

This article is for general informational purposes only, it is not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice. Should you require any further information, please do not hesitate to contact HMS Advocates LLP at info@hms.africa.

HMS Africa Advocates LLP is considered the foremost innovative and full-service Law Firm in Kenya. Our Clients navigate and transact in diverse sectors with new and evolving opportunities. Our services to our Clients extend across the globe with a presence in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Ghana and Egypt. In a constantly changing environment, we apply a bespoke approach to resolving the legal challenges posed across industries and jurisdictions ensuring the best possible results for our clients.

Our Firm was founded in 2016 by leading independent Legal minds and industry professionals who are united by a shared vision and dedicated to achieving excellence legal practice. We nurture a forward thinking mindset, collaboration and corporate responsibility and are committed to creating a better future for our clients and the communities around us.

We are achieving our Firm’s vision through an inclusive outlook which guarantees tailor made solutions for our valued Client’s and our team has developed expertise in the following areas: Banking, Financial Services & Insolvency, Corporate and Commercial Law, Employment and Labour Relations Law, Tax Law, Real Estate and Construction Law, Immigration, Litigation & Dispute Resolution, Intellectual Property and
Technology, Media and Telecommunications (TMT).

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