News & Analysis
Recent Jurisprudence on Public Participation in Energy Matters in Kenya
By Dr. Kariuki Muigua, PhD (Leading Environmental Law Scholar, Natural Resources Lawyer and Dispute Resolution Expert in Kenya)*
The Constitution of Kenya 2010 guarantees the right of access to information. However, some of the energy providers do not readily provide information on such matters as tariffs, pollution, real costs and other cost and affordability-related issues. This hinders effective decision making for most people on the available sources of energy. Further, while undertaking energy projects, some of the stakeholders have violated the constitutional principle of public participation. The Public Participation, No. 2 Bill 2019 which seeks to give effect to the constitutional principle of public participation defines public participation as the involvement and consultation of the public in the decision making processes of the relevant state organs and public offices. It is an important constitutional safeguard that ensures that the views of those who are likely to be affected by development projects are taken into account before such projects are implemented.
The importance of public participation was pronounced in the case of Mui Coal Basin Local Community & 15 others v Permanent Secretary Ministry of Energy & 17 others  eKLR, where the Constitutional Court observed that: ‘Public participation is a national value that is an expression of the sovereignty of the people as articulated under Article 1 of the Constitution. Article 10 makes public participation a national value as a form of expression of that sovereignty. Hence, public participation is an established right in Kenya; a justiciable one – indeed one of the corner stones of our new democracy.
Kenya’s jurisprudence has firmly established that Courts will firmly strike down any laws or public acts or projects that do not meet the public participation threshold.’ The principle of public participation was also upheld by the Supreme Court In The Matter of the National Lands Commission  eKLR where it was observed that: ‘The participation of the people is a constitutional safeguard, and a mechanism of accountability against State organs, the national and county governments, as well as commissions and independent offices. It is a device for promoting democracy, transparency, openness, integrity and effective service delivery.’
Public participation in environmental governance is provided for under the Constitution which mandates the state to encourage public participation in the management, protection and conservation of the environment. It is an essential principle in natural resources management. Public participation in environmental governance is aimed at furthering environmental democracy which connotes the right of all whose daily lives are affected by the quality of the environment to participate in environmental decision-making. Utilization of the views of the public in decision-making on environmental issues results in better implementation of the goals of environmental protection and sustainable development. In the context of energy justice, public participation fosters procedural justice by engaging with all stakeholders and promoting inclusivity and non- discrimination.
Further, with regard to environmental projects, the Environmental Management and Co-Ordination Act requires project proponents to undertake public participation in the process of preparing the Environmental Impact Assessment Study Report. Lack of community engagement through public participation has often seen energy projects stall due to opposition by affected communities. This was vividly seen in the case of Kinangop Wind Park Limited which sought to erect a 60.8 Megawatt wind turbine farm to be in Kinangop, Nyandarua County. However, the project stalled due to community protests over lack of proper engagement, sensitization and compensation.
The Kinangop Wind Park dispute ended up in dispute resolution first in the Kenyan Courts as Moffat Kamau & 9 others v Aelous Kenya Limited & 9 others  eKLR. The Environment and Land Court Judge stated in Judgement that “I am of the opinion that the petitioners have demonstrated that there was impropriety in the manner in which the EIA licences were varied, and in the manner in which the proponents of the project intend to implement the project, on a site (the 38 plots) that has never before been subjected to full EIA. It is on this point, that I am of the view that the petition must succeed, at least in so far as it relates to the violation of the right to a clean and healthy environment… This judgment does not mean that the Kinangop Wind Project cannot be actualized or operated. It can. But it can only proceed if proper procedures are followed and a green light properly given in accordance with the law.
Then the investors proceeded to the International Court of Arbitration (ICC) seating in London. In Kinangop Windpark Ltd vs Republic of Kenya, ICC Case 21728/TO, they sought compensation and damages under a Letter of Support issued by the Government of Kenya for the erection of 38 wind turbines alleging that the government had failed to eliminate a political event emanating from community protests. The community in Kinangop raised concerns about the manner in which the project was being implemented noting there was no proper community engagement and sensitization, compensation of the people around the setback areas, relocation and the manner in which the land was leased. The Government of Kenya in its defence denied the allegations. ICC dismissed the claim against the Government of Kenya for over Kshs. 31 billion (US 311,649,022 million). The Tribunal in its award issued in July 2018 dismissed all the claims by Kinangop Wind Park Limited (KWP) for failure to uphold procedural justice.
In Save Lamu & 5 others v National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) & Another, Tribunal Appeal No. Net 196 of 2016, the National Environment Tribunal revoked an Environmental Impact Assessment License issued to Amu Power Company Limited to set up an intended 1050 MW coal fired power plant in Lamu for lack of effective public participation among other grounds. In its decision, the Tribunal noted that ‘human beings are justifiably concerned about the environmental impacts of projects in their location and especially where those projects are novel in nature…, being concerned about all these environmental effects of a project the people most affected by a project must therefore have a say on each and every aspect of the project and its impact.’ Public participation is thus an essential principle in projects, including energy-related ones, which needs to be upheld in order to enhance energy justice.
For purposes of public participation, the court in Mada Holdings Ltd t/a Fig Tree Camp v County Council of Narok defined the public as ‘the individual who has sufficient interest in the issue over which the public body is exercising discretion, or where the exercise of that discretion is likely to adversely affect the interests of the individual or even where it is shown that the individual has a legitimate expectation to be consulted before the discretionary power is exercised. Courts have also insisted on meaningful public participation. In Robert N. Gakuru & Others v Governor Kiambu County & 3 others, the court decided that ‘public participation ought to be real and not illusory and ought not to be treated as a mere formality for the purposes of fulfilment of the Constitutional dictates.’
From the foregoing, it is clear that stakeholder inclusivity through public participation is an important component of energy justice as it promotes procedural justice. Energy projects such oil extraction and coal mining have potential environmental and human effects since they can result in environmental degradation and displacement of citizens. Community consultation through meaningful public participation is important to ensure that there is public acceptance and cooperation with such projects. This is in line with Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration, 1992 which acknowledges that environmental issues are best handled with the participation of all concerned citizens, at the relevant level. Public participation is also enshrined as one of the national values and principles under the Constitution. Through public participation, energy entities are able to put into consideration the views of those likely to be affected by energy projects in their implementation. They must also satisfy the requirement for sufficient stakeholder engagement through public participation which must be reflected in the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) study reports for an EIA Licence to issue for commencement of such projects.
*This is article is an extract from an article by Dr. Kariuki Muigua, PhD, Muigua, K., Towards Energy Justice in Kenya, Available at: http://kmco.co.ke/wp-content/uploads/ 2020/02/Towards-Energy-Justice-in-Kenya-00000005.pdf. Dr. Kariuki Muigua is Kenya’s foremost Environmental Law and Natural Resources Lawyer and Scholar, Sustainable Development Advocate and Conflict Management Expert. Dr. Kariuki Muigua is a Senior Lecturer of Environmental Law and Dispute resolution at the University of Nairobi School of Law and The Center for Advanced Studies in Environmental Law and Policy (CASELAP). He has published numerous books and articles on Environmental Law, Environmental Justice Conflict Management, Alternative Dispute Resolution and Sustainable Development. Dr. Muigua is also a Chartered Arbitrator, an Accredited Mediator, the Africa Trustee of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators and the Managing Partner of Kariuki Muigua & Co. Advocates. Dr. Muigua 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
Former KCB Company Secretary Sues Over 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.
News & Analysis
Court of Appeal Upholds Eviction of Radcliffes from Karen Land
The Court of Appeal has stayed the decision of the Environment and Land Court purporting to reinstate Adrian Radcliffe into possession of the 5.7 Acre Karen Land by Kena Properties Ltd after eviction by the lawful owners in February 2022. Adrian Radcliffe who was evicted by Kena Properties Ltd, the innocent purchaser of the Land for value.
Before his eviction, Mr. Radcliffe had been living on the land as a squatter expatriate for 33 years without paying any rent. Since he moved into the property as a tenant, he only paid deposit for the land in August 1989 despite corresponding severally with the owner of the land. His attempt to acquire the land by adverse possession claim filed in 2005 was dismissed by Court in 2011 on the basis that he has engaged with the owner of the land July 1997 and agreed to buy the land which he failed to do. The High Court [Justice Kalpana Rawal as she then was] concluded that:
“His [Mr. Adrian Radcliffe] averments that he did not have any idea of the whereabouts of the Defendant and that he could possibly be not alive, were not only very sad but mala fide in view of the correspondence on record addressed by him to the Defendant’s wife. I would thus find that the averments made by him to the contrary are untrue looking to the facts of this case.”
On 10th March 2022, Mr. Adrian Radcliffe and Family purported to obtain court orders for reinstatement into the land. However, the Court of Appeal issued an interim stay of execution of the said orders. The Court of Appeal has now granted the application of Kena Properties Ltd and stayed the execution of the Environment and Land Court Order pending the hearing and determination of the Appeal.
The Court also stayed the proceedings at the Environment and Land Court on the matter during the pendency of the Appeal. In effect, the eviction orders issued by the Chief Magistrate Court for eviction of Mr. Adrian Radcliffe in favour of Kena Properties as the purchaser of the property for value were upheld and the company now enjoys unfettered ownership and possession of the suit property until the conclusion of the Appeal.
The Court of Appeal in granting the orders sought by Kena Properties Ltd concurred with Kena Properties Ltd that as the property owner it had an arguable appeal with a high probability of success which would be rendered nugatory if Adrian Radcliffe a trespasser was to resume his unlawful possession of the suit property, erect structures thereon, recklessly use or abuse the said suit property as he deems fit. In any case, that is bound to fundamentally alter the state of the suit property and render it unusable by Kena Properties Ltd as the property owner.
At the same time, the Appellate Court rubbished the argument of Adrian Radcliffe in opposition to the application for stay that he has been in occupation of the suit property for more than 30 years and that he and his family were unlawfully evicted from the suit property on 4th February, 2022. The Court also rejected Radcliffe’s claim that Kena Properties Ltd has no valid title to the suit property and held that as the purchaser, the company was entitled to enjoy ownership and possession of their property during the pendency of the appeal.
The Court dismissed claims of Mr. Adrian Radcliffe that Kena Properties Ltd as the property owner acquired title to the suit property illegally and unprocedurally finding to the contrary. Further, it rejected Adrian Radcliffe’s claim that Kena Properties as the purchaser cannot evict a legal occupier of a property putting paid to the claim that he was a legal occupier at the time of eviction.
As a matter of fact, Mr. Adrian Radcliffe cannot claim to be the legal occupier of the property having attempted to acquire it by adverse possession before the High Court thwarted his fraudulent scheme on 28th February 2011. Mr. Radcliffe did not appeal the 2011 High Court decision meaning it is still the law that he is not the owner of the land nor the legal occupier of the land having attempted to adversely acquire against the interests of the lawful owner who sold it to Kena Properties.
Mr. Adrian Radcliffe is a well-to-do Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WaSH) UNICEF consultant and former UN employee (who has been earning hefty House Allowance). Many have wondered why he has been defaulting in paying rent for 33 years on the prime plot of land in Karen while living large and taking his kids to most expensive schools in Kenya. No question, a local Kenyan could never have gotten away with such selfish impunity.
News & Analysis
Review: Journal of Conflict Management and Sustainable Development, Vol. 9, No. 1
The Journal of Conflict Management and Sustainable Development, Volume 9, Issue No. 1, which is edited by and published by Dr. Kariuki Muigua, PhD is out and stays true to the reputation of the journal in providing a platform for scholarly debate on thematic areas in the fields of Conflict Management and Sustainable Development. The current issue published in September 2022 covers diverse topics including Resolving Oil and Gas Disputes in Africa; National Environment Tribunal, Sustainable Development and Access to Justice in Kenya; Protection of Cultural Heritage During War; The Role of Water in the attainment of Sustainable Development in Kenya; Property Rights in Human Biological Materials in Kenya; Nurturing our Wetlands for Biodiversity Conservation; Investor-State Dispute Resolution in a Fast-Paced World; Status of Participation of Women in Mediation; Business of Climate Change and Critical Analysis of World Trade Organization’s Most-Favored Nation (MFN) Treatment.
Dr. Wilfred A. Mutubwa and Eunice Njeri Ng’ang’a in “Resolving Oil and Gas Disputes in an Integrating Africa: An Appraisal of the Role of Regional Arbitration Centres” explore the nature of disputes in the realm of oil and gas in Africa taking a look into the recent continental and sub-regional developments in a bid to establish regional integration. Additionally, it tests the limits of intra-African trade and dispute resolution and the imperatives for the African regional courts and arbitration centres. In “National Environment Tribunal, Sustainable Development and Access to Justice in Kenya,” Dr. Kariuki Muigua discusses the role played by the National Environment Tribunal (NET) in promoting access to justice and enhancing the principles of sustainable development in Kenya. The paper also highlights challenges facing the tribunal and proposes recommendations towards enhancing the effectiveness of the tribunal.
Dr. Kenneth Wyne Mutuma in “Protecting Cultural Heritage in Times of War: A Case for History,” argues that cultural heritage is at the heart of human existence and its preservation even in times of war is sacrosanct. It concludes that it is thus critical for states to take positive and tangible steps to ensure environmental conservation and protection during war within the ambit of the existing international legal framework. In “The Role of Water in the attainment of Sustainable Development in Kenya,” Jack Shivugu critically evaluates the role of water in the attainment of sustainable development in Kenya and argues water plays a critical role in the attainment of the sustainable development goals both in Kenya and at the global stage. The paper interrogates some of the water and Sustainable Development concerns in Kenya including water pollution, water scarcity and climate change and suggests practical ways to enhance the role of water in the Sustainable Development agenda.
Dr. Paul Ogendi in “Collective Property Rights in Human Biological Materials in Kenya,” reflects on property rights in relation to human biological materials obtained from research participants participating in genomic research. He argues that property rights are crucial in genomic research because they can help avoid exploitation or abuse of such precious material by researchers. In “Nurturing our Wetlands for Biodiversity Conservation,” Dr. Kariuki Muigua notes that Wetlands have a vital role in not just delivering ecological services to meet human needs, but also in biodiversity conservation. Wetlands are vital habitat sites for many species and a source of water, both of which contribute to biodiversity protection. The paper examines the role of wetlands in biodiversity conservation and how these wetland resources might be managed to improve biodiversity conservation.
Oseko Louis D. Obure in “Investor-State Dispute Resolution in a Fast-Paced World,” preponderance of disputes between States or States and Investors created need for a robust, effective, and efficient mechanisms not only for the resolution of these disputes but also their prevention. He notes that developing states lead in being parties to Investor-State Disputes (ISD) particularly as respondents. He proceeds to conceptualize and problematize investor-state disputes resolution in a fast-paced world. Lilian N.S. Kong’ani and Dr. Kariuki Muigua in “Status of Participation of Women in Mediation: A case Study of Development Project Conflict in Olkaria IV, Kenya” review the status of participation of women in mediation to resolve conflicts between KenGen and the community. The paper demonstrates a need for further democratization of the mediation processes to cater for more participation of women to enhance the mediation results and offer more sustainable resolutions.
Felix Otieno Odhiambo and Melinda Lorenda Mueni in “The Business of Climate Change: An Analysis of Carbon Trading in Kenya analyses the business of carbon trading in the context of Kenya’s legal framework. The article examines the legal framework that underpins climate change into the Kenyan legal system and provides an exposition of the concept of carbon trading and its various forms. Michael Okello, in “Critical Analysis of World Trade Organisation’s Most-Favored Nation (MFN) Treatment: Prospects, Challenges and Emerging Trends in the 21st Century,” highlights the rationale behind MFN treatment and also restates the vision of multilateral trade to achieve equitable and special interventions with respect to trade in goods, services and trade related intellectual property rights in the affected states.
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