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Resolving the Jurisdiction Issues of the Sports Dispute Tribunal of Kenya

The wording of Section 58 of the Sports Act raises several issues on the jurisdiction of the Sports Dispute Tribunal.



Recent Group Photo of the Members of the Sports Disputes Tribunal (Photo Courtesy)

By Dr. Kariuki Muigua (Chartered Arbitrator)*

The enactment of the Sports Act, 2013 and the establishment of the Sports Dispute Tribunal marked an important step towards promoting sports arbitration in Kenya. The Sports Disputes Tribunal is established under Section 55 of the Act and consists of members appointed by the Judicial Service Commission in consultation with the National Sports Organizations who include a Chairperson, at least two advocates of the High Court of Kenya who have experience in legal matters relating to sports or have been involved in sport in any capacity and at least two and not more than six persons who have experience in sports in any capacity of at least ten years.

The jurisdiction of the Tribunal as set out under section 58 of the Act is to determine appeals against decisions made by national sports organizations or umbrella national sports organizations, whose rules specifically allow for appeals to be made to the Tribunal against disciplinary decision among others. The jurisdiction of the Tribunal also extends to other sports-related disputes and appeals that all parties to the dispute agree to refer to the Tribunal and that the Tribunal agrees to hear. The Sports Act in recognition of the provisions of the Constitution of Kenya that requires Tribunals to promote alternative forms of dispute resolution including reconciliation, mediation, arbitration and traditional dispute resolution mechanisms provides that the Tribunal may, in determining disputes apply alternative dispute resolution methods for sports disputes and provide expertise and assistance regarding alternative dispute resolution to the parties to a dispute.

While this provision is not construed in mandatory terms, it nevertheless demonstrates an intention to promote alternative dispute resolution in sports disputes. Appeals against decisions of the Tribunal lie with the Court of Arbitration for Sport and the same cannot be challenged in national courts. However, they are subject to the judicial review jurisdiction of the High Court pursuant to the provisions of articles 47 and 165 (6) of the Constitution of Kenya, 2010.

The Sports Tribunal has been operationalized and has heard and determined various appeals and disputes lodged before it in relation to several sports organizations such as Football Federation of Kenya, Kenya National Paralympic Committee, Kenya Rowing & Canoe Federation, Kenya Rugby Union and National Olympic Committee of Kenya among others. The Tribunal has contributed immensely towards streamlining the operations of sports federations in the country through measures such as cancelling elections not held in accordance with the requisite rules and guidelines.

However, the operation of the Tribunal may be hindered by several challenges. The wording of section 58 of the Sports Act raises several issues on the jurisdiction of the Sports Dispute Tribunal as it makes it limited to rules by national sports organizations allowing appeals to the Tribunal and agreement between the parties. As framed, this provision poses a jurisdictional challenge since Sports organizations can avoid the jurisdiction of the tribunal within their rules. Further, section 58 (b) of the Sports Act poses a challenge in that parties have the power to determine the jurisdiction of the Tribunal. Where there is no such agreement, challenges on jurisdiction may be raised by either party in court.

This was the issue in the case of Dennis Kadito v Office of the Sports Disputes Tribunal & another [2017] eKLR. In the case, the petitioner filed a claim before the Sports Disputes Tribunal seeking a commission of USD, 17500/= from Sofapaka Football Club in relation to transfer of players. Despite serving the football club with the claim, it did not enter appearance or file a defence. The Tribunal heard the dispute in the absence of the football club but made a decision determining that it had no jurisdiction to hear that particular dispute by virtue of section 58(b) of the Sports Act, 2013 on account of the football club’s failure to enter appearance and file a defence or submitting to the Tribunal’s jurisdiction. The petitioner challenged the decision in court on the basis that section 58(b) of the Sports Act is unconstitutional for violating Article 48 of the Constitution on access to justice.

In dismissing the petition, the court decided that: ‘In the case of the category of disputes falling under section 58(b), these are any other disputes that may be sports related but which parties agree to refer to the tribunal and even after agreeing to refer them, it is not automatic that the tribunal has to hear them. The tribunal has the option to decide whether to take over the dispute and hear it or decline jurisdiction… the words of the statute in section 58(b) are clear and unambiguous that parties must agree to refer any other dispute of a sports nature to the tribunal and the tribunal after examining the sort of the dispute has to agree to hear it.’

There is need to revisit section 58 (b) of the Sports Act to provide certainty on the jurisdiction of the Tribunal and avoid instances where a party to a dispute may be denied access to justice by failure of the other party to submit to the jurisdiction of the Sports Disputes Tribunal. Another issue that emerges from the wording of section 58 of the Sports Act is that the Tribunal only enjoys appellate jurisdiction. It can only exercise original jurisdiction upon agreement of parties to a dispute. It would have been prudent to at least confer original jurisdiction on specific matters to the Tribunal.

Further, the Act creates a challenge by giving wide discretion to parties to determine which disputes can be determined by the Tribunal. Another notable shortcoming in the Sports Act, 2013 is that the Act does not specify the remedies that can be granted by the Tribunal upon hearing a dispute. The upshot of this shortcoming is that a decision of the Tribunal can be challenged on the basis of the remedy granted. There is thus need to revisit the Sports Act, 2013 to clarify these issues and make the Tribunal more vibrant and effective.

*This article is an updated extract from Dr. Kariuki Muigua, PhD article: Muigua, K., “Promoting Sports Arbitration in Africa,” A discussion Paper for the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (Kenya Branch) 2nd Annual Lecture on the theme ‘Promoting Sports Arbitration in Africa’ held on Thursday 28th November, 2019 in Nairobi, available at: Dr. Kariuki Muigua is a Chartered Arbitrator, Accredited Mediator, the Africa Trustee of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators and the Managing Partner of Kariuki Muigua & Co. Advocates. He is recognized as one of the leading lawyers and dispute resolution experts by the Chambers Global Guide 2021 and nominated as ADR Practitioner of the Year (Nairobi Legal Awards) 2021. 

News & Analysis

The Roles of the Three Parts of the Permanent Court of Arbitration




H.E. Amb. Marcin Czepelak, the Fourteenth Secretary-General of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA)

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Brief History of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA)




By Dr. Kariuki Muigua, PhD, C.Arb, Current Member of Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) Representing the Republic of Kenya.

The Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) is a 124 Years Old Intergovernmental Organization currently with 122 contracting states. It was established at the turn of 20th Century during the first Hague Peace Conference held between 18th May and 29th July 1899. The conference was an initiative of then Russian Czar Nicholas II to discuss peace and disarmament and specifically with the object of “seeking the most effective means of ensuring to all peoples the benefits of a real and lasting peace, and, above all, of limiting the progressive development of existing armaments.” The culmination of the conference was the adoption of a Convention on the Pacific Settlement of International Disputes, which dealt not only with arbitration but also with other methods of pacific settlement, such as good offices and mediation.

The aim of the conference was to “strengthen systems of international dispute resolution” especially international arbitration which in the last century had proven effective for the purpose with number of successful international arbitrations being concluded among Nations. The Alabama arbitration of 1871-1872 between the United Kingdom (UK) and the United States (US) under the Treaty of Washington of 1871 culminating in the arbitral tribunal’s award that the UK pay the US compensation for breach of neutrality during American Civil War which it did had demonstrated the effectiveness of arbitration in settling of international disputes and piqued interest of many practitioners in it as a mode of dispute resolution during the latter years of the nineteenth century.

The Institut de Droit International adopted a code of procedure for arbitration in 1875 to answer the need for a general law of arbitration governing for countries and parties wishing to have recourse to international arbitration. The growth of arbitration as a mode of international dispute resolution formed the background of the 1899 conference and informed its most enduring achievement, namely, the establishment of the PCA as the first global mechanism for the settlement of disputes between states. Article 16 of the 1899 Convention recognized that “in questions of a legal nature, and especially in the interpretation or application of International Conventions” arbitration is the “most effective, and at the same time the most equitable, means of settling disputes which diplomacy has failed to settle.”

In turn, the 1899 Convention provided for the creation of permanent machinery to enable the setting up of arbitral tribunals as necessary and to facilitate their work under the auspices of the institution it named as the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA). In particular, Article 20 of the 1899 Convention stated that “[w]ith the object of facilitating an immediate recourse to arbitration for international differences which it has not been possible to settle by diplomacy, the signatory Powers undertake to organize a Permanent Court of Arbitration, accessible at all times and operating, unless otherwise stipulated by the parties, in accordance with the rules of procedure inserted in the present Convention.” In effect, the Convention set up a permanent system of international arbitration and institutionalized the law and practice of arbitration in a definite and acceptable way.

As a result, the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) was established in 1900 and began operating in 1902. The PCA as established consisted of a panel of jurists designated by each country acceding to the Convention with each country being entitled to designate up to four from among whom the members of each arbitral tribunal might be chosen. In addition, the Convention created a permanent Bureau, located in The Hague, with functions similar to those of a court registry or secretariat. The 1899 Convention also laid down a set of rules of procedure to govern the conduct of arbitrations under the PCA framework.

The second Hague Peace Conference in 1907 saw a revision of the 1899 Convention and improvement of the rules governing arbitral proceedings. Today, the PCA has developed into a modern, multi-faceted arbitral institution perfectly situated to meet the evolving dispute resolution needs of the international community. The Permanent Court of Arbitration has also diversified its service offering alongside those contemplated by the Conventions. For instance, today the International Bureau of the Permanent Court of Arbitration serves as a registry in important international arbitrations. In 1993, the Permanent Court of Arbitration adopted new “Optional Rules for Arbitrating Disputes between Two Parties of Which Only One Is a State” and, in 2001, “Optional Rules for Arbitration of Disputes Relating to Natural Resources and/or the Environment”.


PCA Website: (accessed on 25th May 2023).

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Former KCB Company Secretary Sues Over Unlawful Dismissal




Former KCB Group Company Secretary Joseph Kamau Kania who has sued the Bank for Unlawful Dismissal

Former KCB Group Company Secretary Joseph Kamau Kania has sued the lender seeking reinstatement or be compensated for illegal sacking almost three years ago. Lawyer Kania was the KCB Group company secretary until restructuring of the lender in 2021 that saw some senior executives dropped.

Through the firm of Senior Counsel Wilfred Nderitu, Kamau wants the court to order KCB Group to unconditionally reinstate him to employment without altering any of the contractual terms until his retirement in December 2025.

In his court documents filed before Employment and Labour Relations Court, the career law banker seeks the court to declare the reorganization of the company structure a nullity and amounted to a violation of his fundamental right to fair labour practices as guaranteed in Article 41(1) of the Constitution. He further wants the court to declare that the position of Group Company Secretary did not at any time cease to exist within the KCB Group structure.

He further urged the Employment Court to declare that the recruitment and appointment of Bonnie Okumu, his former assistant, as the Group Company Secretary, in relation to the contemporaneous termination of his employment, was unprocedural, insufficient and inappropriate to infer a lawful termination of his employment.

“A declaration that the factual and legal circumstances of the Petitioner’s termination of employment were insufficient and inappropriate to infer a redundancy against him, and that any redundancy declared by the KCB Group in relation to him was therefore null, void and of no legal effect and amounted to a violation of his fundamental right to fair labour practices as guaranteed in Article 41(1) of the Constitution,” seeks lawyer Kamau.

Kamau says he was subjected to discriminatory practices by the KCB Bank Group in violation of his fundamental right to equality and freedom from discrimination as guaranteed in Article 27 of the Constitution and the termination of his employment was unfair, unjustified, illegal, null and void.

Lawyer Kamau further seeks the court to declare that the Non-Compete Clause in the 2016 Contract is unenforceable by the KCB Group as against him and is voidable by him as against the Bank ab initio, byreason of the termination of the Petitioner’s employment having been a violation of Articles 41(1) and 47(1) and (2) of the Constitution, and of the Employment Act.

He also wants the Employment Court to find that finding that KCB’s group legal representation by Messrs of Mohammed Muigai LLP Advocates law firm in respect of his claim for unlawful termination of employment resulted in a clear conflict of interest by reason of the fact that a Founding and Senior Partner at the said firm lawyer Mohammed Nyaoga is also the Chairman of the CBK’s Board of Directors.

“A Declaration that the circumstances of KCB’s legal representation by Messrs. Mohammed Muigai LLP Advocates resulted in a violation of the Petitioner’s fundamental right to have the employment dispute decided independently and impartially, as guaranteed in Article 50(1) of the Constitution,” seeks lawyer Kamau.

Kamau is seeking damages against both KCB Group and Central Bank of Kenya jointly and severally for the violation of his constitutional and fundamental right to fair labour practices.

He wants  further wants court to declare that CBK is liable to petitioner on account of its breach of statutory duty to effectively regulate KCB Group to ensure that KCB complied with the Central Bank of Kenya Prudential Guidelines and all other Laws, Rules, Codes and Standards, and that, as an issuer of securities, it complied with capital markets legislation.

Kamau through his lawyer Nderitu told the court that he was involved in Shareholder engagement in introducing the Group aide-mémoire that significantly improved the management of the Annual General Meetings, including obtaining approval without voting through the Memorandum and Articles of Association of Kenya Commercial Bank Limited among others.

He said that during his employment at KCB Bank Kenya and with the KCB Group, he initially worked well with former KCB CEO Joseph Oigara until 2016 when the CEO allegedly started sidelining him by removing the legal function from his reporting line.

He further claims he was transferred from the Group’s offices at Kencom House to its offices Upper Hill under the guise that the Petitioner was merely to support the KCB Group Board.

He adds that at that point his roles were given to Okumu for reasons that were not related to work demands.  He stated that Oigara at one time proposed that he should leave his role in the KCB Group and go and serve as the Company Secretary of the National Bank of Kenya Limited, a subsidiary of the Group, a suggestion which he disagreed with to Oigara’s utter annoyance.

Kamau stated that his work was thenceforth unfairly discredited, leading to his being taken through a disciplinary process whose intended outcome failed miserably, and the Petitioner was vindicated.

“More specifically, the Petitioner contends that the purported creation of a new organizational structure towards the end of 2020 was in fact Oigara’s orchestration targeted to remove certain individuals by requiring them to undergo interviews in the pretext that new roles were created, and amounted to a further violation of the Petitioner’s fundamental right to fair labour practices under Article 41(1) of the Constitution,” said in his court documents.

He further adds that this sham reorganization demonstrates how the role of the KCB Group Company Secretary purportedly ceased to be and was then very briefly replaced with a new role of the KCB Group General Counsel. The role of KCB Group Company Secretary then ‘resurfaced’ immediately thereafter, in total violation of legal and regulatory requirements.

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