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Environmental Compliance Requirements under Environmental Management and Co-ordination Act



By Dr. Kariuki Muigua, PhD (Leading Environmental Law Scholar, Policy Advisor, Natural Resources Lawyer and Dispute Resolution Expert from Kenya)*

Environmental compliance entails adherence to environmental laws, standards, regulations and other requirements. The need for environmental compliance is important among corporations due to the potential of environmental liability as a result of non-compliance. Corporations thus have to adhere to the various environmental laws, regulations and standards set out under EMCA and other environmental sectoral laws. Environmental Management and Co-ordination Act (EMCA), 1999 sets out various environmental management tools such as Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), Environmental Audits, Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) and Strategic Environmental and Social Assessment (SESA).

Environmental Impact Assessment

Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) refers to a systematic examination conducted to determine whether or not a programme, activity or project will have any adverse impacts on the environment. It has been described as an important tool in environmental conservation and management since it makes it possible to identify environmental problems and provide solutions to prevent or mitigate these problems to the acceptable levels and contribute to achieving sustainable development. Since most development activities and projects in Kenya are undertaken by companies, EIA becomes an important aspect of the corporate governance discourse. It has been argued that EIA can be a powerful tool for keeping the corporates including Multinational Corporations (MNCs) operating in the country in check.

The need for EIA is so important that the Environmental (Impact Assessment and Audit) Regulations, 2003 makes it mandatory to conduct an EIA study and have it approved before undertaking a project likely to have environmental effects. The Regulations require a proponent to prepare a Project Report that covers inter alia; the nature of the project, activities to be undertaken during construction of the project and the potential environmental impacts of the project and the mitigation measures to be taken during and after implementation of the project.  In addition, the regulations require a proponent to submit to NEMA an Environmental Impact Assessment Study Report that deals with among other things the environmental effects of the project and an Environmental Management Plan (EMP) proposing the measures for eliminating, minimizing or mitigating adverse impacts on the environment.

It important for corporations to comply with EIA requirements under EMCA in order to minimize the environmental impacts of their projects and promote sustainable development. Failure to comply with EIA requirements under EMCA has seen instances where projects have been halted. In Cortec Mining Kenya Limited v Cabinet Secretary Ministry of Mining & 9 others [2015] eKLR, the Applicant was issued with a mining license without complying with the EIA requirements under EMCA. In cancelling the license, the Environment and Land Court decided that:

‘To the extent that the Commissioner for mines was not furnished with a NEMA Licence as required under the EMCA Act and the Regulations made thereunder my view is he could not issue a valid Mining Licence and the Licence he issued to the Applicant on 7th March 2013 was null and void and of no legal effect.’

Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA)

Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) is defined as a formal and systematic process to analyse and address the environmental effects of policies, plans, programmes and other strategic initiatives before their final adoption. EMCA requires all entities, including corporations, to undertake preparations for SEAs at their own expense and submit them to NEMA for approval. It has been observed that the object of SEA is to enhance environmental protection and promote sustainable development through contributing to the integration of environmental considerations into the preparation and adoption of specified policies, plans and programmes.

Environmental Audits and Monitoring

The requirement for environmental audits and monitoring has been enshrined under the Constitution of Kenya as part of the obligations in respect of the environment. Under EMCA, environmental audit is defined as the systematic, documented, periodic and objective evaluation of how well environmental organization, management and equipment are performing in conserving or preserving the environment (emphasis added). Environmental audits and monitoring act as follow up tools to determine the extent to which activities being undertaken conform to the environmental impact assessment study report issues in respect of the particular project. The aim of this process is to guard against deviation from the study report which could have detrimental effects on the environment. NEMA is mandated under EMCA to undertake environmental audits of all activities in consultation with other lead agencies.

Public Participation

The principle of Public participation has become essential under the current Constitutional dispensation in Kenya. It is enshrined under the Constitution as one of the national values and principles that binds all persons (including corporations) in the implementation of policy decisions. The principle is fundamental in environmental governance and all policies, plans and processes related to the environment are to be subjected to public participation. In Kenya Association of Manufacturers & 2 others v Cabinet Secretary – Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources & 3 others [2017] eKLR, the court recognized the importance of this principle and observed that:

‘One of the environmental governance principles emphasized by the legal framework is the principle of public participation in the development of policies, plans and processes for the management of the environment and natural resources.’

The principle of Public Participation has also been captured under EMCA. The Act requires the Environment and Land Court in exercising jurisdiction conferred upon it by the Act to be guided by principles of sustainable development including participation of the people in in the development of policies, plans and processes for the management of the environment. Further, under the Environmental (Impact Assessment and Audit) Regulations, 2003, a project proponent is required to seek the views of persons who may be affected by the project while conducting an environmental impact assessment study. Public participation is an important tool of environmental governance in Kenya since it guarantees social acceptance of projects. Neglect of public participation by corporations has led to EIA licenses being revoked for lack of public participation in conducting the EIA study.

Sustainable Development

Sustainable development has been enshrined as one of the national values and principles under the Constitution. The principle has also been captured under EMCA and incudes public participation, inter and intra generational equity, polluter pays principle precautionary principle inter alia. The importance of sustainable development has been further enhanced through the adoption of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by the United Nations member states in 2015 as a universal call of action towards targets such as ending poverty and protecting the planet. The SDGs set various targets such as sustainable management of water and sanitation for all, attainment of affordable and clean energy, promotion of inclusive and sustainable industrialization and taking action to combat climate change. Corporations can assist towards promoting sustainable development through compliance with the targets set out under the SDGs.

*This is article is an extract from an article by Dr. Kariuki Muigua, PhD Muigua, K., “Providing Legal Advice on Corporate Environmental Compliance in Kenya,” Available at: 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. 


Al Ouran, N.M., ‘Analysis of Environmental Health linkages in the EIA process in Jordan,’ International Journal of Current Microbiology and Applied Sciences, Vol. 4, No. 7, 2015, pp. 862-871.

Climate Change Act, No. 11 of 2016, Government Printer, Nairobi.

Companies Act, No. 17 of 2015, Government Printer, Nairobi.

Constitution of Kenya 2010, Government Printer, Nairobi.

Cortec Mining Kenya Limited v Cabinet Secretary Ministry of Mining & 9 others [2015] eKLR.

Declaration of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment Stockholm, 16 June 1972, available at (Accessed on 25/11/2021).

Environmental Management and Co-Ordination Act (EMCA), No. 8 of 1999, Government Printer, Nairobi

Environmental (Impact Assessment and Audit) Regulations, 2003 Legal Notice No. 101 (June 13, 2003),

Environment Management and Co-ordination (Air Quality) Regulations, available at (Accessed on 25/11/2021).

Environment Management and Co-ordination Water Quality Regulations, 2006 Legal Notice No. 120 (September 4, 2006).

Environmental Management: The ISO 14000 family of International Standards, available at (Accessed on 25/11/2021).

Environmental protection Agency, ‘Strategic Environmental Assessment,’ Available at (Accessed on 21/11/2021).

Kenya Association of Manufacturers & 2 others v Cabinet Secretary – Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources & 3 others [2017] eKLR.

Muigua K, ‘Strengthening the Environmental Liability Regime in Kenya for Sustainable Development,’ Available at: on 25/11/2021).

Muigua. K, ‘Legal Aspects of Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) and Environmental Management, available at (Accessed on 25/11/2021).

Muigua, K, ‘Towards Meaningful Public Participation in Natural Resource Management in Kenya’ available at (Accessed on 25/11/2021).

Save Lamu & 5 Others v NEMA & another, Tribunal Appeal No. NET 196 of 2016.

Sustainable Development Goals, available at corporate/brochure/SDGs_Booklet_Web_En.pdf (Accessed on 25/11/2021).

News & Analysis

Why is THE LAWYER AFRICA Listing Top Law Firms and Top Lawyers?




The Litigation Hall of Fame | Kenya in 2023 (The Most Distinguished 50 Litigation Lawyers in Kenya).

We live in the age of information overload where too much information (TMI) is increasingly making it difficult to find actionable legal data about a good law firm or lawyer. At the same time, legal services are increasingly going digital and finding your next lawyer is a now a matter of a few clicks. Many existing, new and potential clients are interested to know more about the lawyer handling or likely to handle their next case or transaction as every HR Manager seeks to know how their In-house Lawyer or next hire compares to peers.

The biggest dilemma especially for commercial consumers of legal services  is where to begin the journey in finding the law firm or the lawyer to meet their immediate legal need created by their new venture,  business, transaction or dispute. In-house counsel are also called upon to justify opting for one lawyer or law firm or over the other.  Hence, the rise in the popularity of international law directories rankings as an attempt to fill the yawning gap by listing a few dozen lawyers and law firms in esoteric categories that often don’t align with the legal needs of the domestic legal market.

But ranking two dozen elite lawyers or big law firms in a big jurisdiction like Kenya there are over 20,000 lawyers is merely a drop in the ocean. The result is the same candidates are listed year after year and an In-house Legal Team looking to infuse new blood in their external counsel panel is left very little discretion. At best, International legal ranking only succeed to tilt the scales in favour of few big firms and their lawyers and to aid the choice of International Legal buyers who are constrained for time in picking their External Counsel in jurisdictions where they cannot find referrals.

The questions that beg are: What about the other top law firms and lawyers who are equally good if not better but don’t have the time to fill the technical paperwork that comes with International Legal Directories rankings? What about Domestic Legal Buyers who simply want to justify why they prefer a lawyer or law firm not listed in the International Directory? Can increasing the number of listed lawyers or law firms from less 0.1% of the profession (as captured by International Law Directories) to at least 1% of the profession or higher for those specializing in the practice area help in enhancing access to justice in Africa? Can ranking law firms by number of fee earners help in the quest for a more accurate bird’s eye view of a country’s legal landscape?

At THE LAWYER AFRICA, we have set out to list Top Law Firms and Top Lawyers in the various practice areas in a way that democratizes law rankings and listings and brings this essential value add within reach of most lawyers and every law firms doing top legal work. We don’t promise to list all the top lawyers or law firms, but we commit to make sure every lawyer or law firm we list is at the top of the game in the listed practice area. We aim to help both little known and already known law firms and lawyers doing top legal work in their area of specialization get discovered by discerning clients and possibly get more opportunities to do great work.

THE LAWYER AFRICA is looking to list up to Top 200 Law Firms in every African Jurisdiction based on their reputation and number of fee earners headcount with a goal of listing at least Africa’s Top 1,000 Law Firms which are leaders in their respective countries. We also seek to list up to Top 1,000 Lawyers in every country in Africa in at least five main practice areas, namely, Litigation, Commercial Law, Property law, In-house and Private Sector or more.

THE LAWYER AFRICA categorizes law firms in large jurisdictions as Top 5, Top 10, Top 20, Top 50 and Top 100 (and allow tying where number of counsel is equal). The Top Lawyers are listed in three categories, namely, Hall of Fame (the Distinguished Top 50 or 75 Practitioners in a Practice Area), Top 100 (the Leading Top 100 Practitioners in a Practice Area) and Up-and-Coming (the promising Top 50 or 75 Practitioners in a Practice Area).  The placing of a listings depends on a number of key factors including the number of key matters or transactions handled, years in practice and experience, size of team working under a counsel, reputation and opinion of peers (where available) as established by THE LAWYER AFRICA.

THE LAWYER AFRICA prefers to list a counsel in only one listing, as far as possible. The Team tries (as far as possible) not to contact listed law firms or lawyers before the listing is finalized in the first. However, a listed law firm or lawyer may be contacted at the pre-launch stage of a list for purposes of selling merchandise relating to the launch but such engagement will not affect the listing. In case of future listings, it is expected that interested lawyers or law firms who feel they were previously left out of the list may to provide information for consideration to determine if they qualify for the next listing but that will not guarantee any listing.

THE LAWYER AFRICA undertakes not to charge for listing any lawyer or law firm. However, upon publication of a listing, as part of recovering the sunk costs we incur in the research and publication of the listings, we shall charge a token for printing and shipping of Quality A3 Certificate for listed Law Firms and/or A4 Certificate for listed Lawyers who wish to have or display the branded souvenirs or to use our proprietary digital materials in their business  branding. We may also charge listed and unlisted law firms and lawyers an affordable fee for limited banner advertising or publishing of enhanced profiles next to the listings.

For any question or feedback on any list or listing, feel free to contact THE LAWYER AFRICA PUBLISHER at info[at]thelawyer[dot]africa.

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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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News & Analysis

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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