By Dr. Kariuki Muigua, PhD (Leading Environmental Law Scholar, Policy Advisor, Natural Resources Lawyer and Dispute Resolution Expert from Kenya), Winner of Kenya’s ADR Practitioner of the Year 2021, ADR Publication of the Year 2021 and CIArb (Kenya) Lifetime Achievement Award 2021*
The Cabinet Secretary for the National Treasury and Planning on 17th June 2020, pursuant to section 112 of Tax Procedures Act, 2015 (the Act), enacted The Tax Procedures (Settlement of Tax Disputes Out of Court or Tribunal) Regulations, 2020 (which were gazetted on 9th July 2020) to make provision for Alternative Dispute Resolution after tax appeal has been lodged either with the Tax Appeals Tribunal (TAT) or Court of Law whether High Court or Court of Appeal. The regulations apply where a tax dispute has been permitted to be settled out of court or tribunal in accordance with section 55 of the Act and section 28 of the Tax Appeals Tribunal providing for out of Court and out of Tribunal settlement.
The regulations provide that a party to a tax dispute may apply to the court or tribunal to settle the tax dispute out of court or tribunal as the case may be. However, the parties to a tax dispute have to agree voluntarily to settle the dispute out of court or tribunal and the party seeking to settle the dispute out of court or tribunal has to obtain the consent of the other party as proof before applying to the court or tribunal. In any case, the parties must be committed to the settlement process. Even where parties agree, there are tax disputes that cannot be settled out of court or tribunal. These include disputes whose settlement would be contrary to the Constitution, the tax law or any other written law; tax dispute involving the interpretation of the law or where there is evidence that the taxpayer has committed fraud in relation to tax.
Further, if the parties to the tax dispute have previously failed to settle the dispute out of court or tribunal, the matter cannot be referred to out of court settlement again. In essence, this provision appears to limit the discretion of the Court or Tribunal to allow referral of disputes that had previously failed to reach settlement under ADR process. This is key given that the parties to a tax dispute are required to conclude the settlement process within ninety days from the date the court or tribunal grants permission to settle the dispute out of court or tribunal. This is the same time stipulated by the Act. Thus, if the parties do not reach a settlement agreement within the stipulated 90 days, the tax dispute shall be referred back to the court or tribunal and it is not possible for parties to agree to extend the time for settlement except with the permission of the court or the tribunal to extend the time.
Once the court or tribunal has permitted the parties to a tax dispute to settle the dispute out of court or tribunal, a facilitator is to be nominated, with the consent of the other party to the dispute. In this regard, the Commissioner may recommend a facilitator from amongst the staff of the Authority or the taxpayer may propose one from a list of mediators accredited by an institution recognized in Kenya. Clearly, this means a taxpayer is not bound to choose a Court Accredited Meditator as is the case in the Court Mandated Mediation. The nomination of a facilitator has to be done within fourteen days after the court or tribunal has granted the parties to a tax dispute permission to settle the dispute. The facilitator is to be notified in writing of the nomination by the Commissioner.
In the interest of impartiality and neutrality, a facilitator must not have been involved in any way in the matter which is the subject to the tax dispute or be a practicing tax agent or represent or have represented the taxpayer in any matter or have any interest in the tax dispute. Further, the facilitator has to disclose in writing to the parties to the tax dispute any conflict of interest which may arise before the commencement of the proceedings for the settlement of the tax dispute or which may arise during the proceedings. In that regard, upon the disclosure of a conflict of interest by a facilitator, the facilitator is required to immediately recuse himself or herself from dealing with the tax dispute and another facilitator shall be nominated. This is needlessly too stringent and may lead to undue delays in settlement of tax disputes. The best option would have been to allow both parties to decide whether to continue with the facilitator or press for recusal.
In facilitating the resolution of tax dispute, the Facilitator is bound to hold such number of meetings as may be appropriate, guide the parties to the tax dispute in the settlement of the dispute, promote and protect the integrity, confidentiality, fairness and efficiency of the process; act independently and avoid circumstances that may result in a conflict of interest; and employ the procedures necessary for the expeditious resolution of the dispute. At the same time, the facilitator has to convene the first meeting between the parties to the tax dispute within fourteen days of being notified of nomination. At the first meeting, the parties identify the issues for settlement; agree on a schedule of meetings; decide on the service of documentary material relevant to the tax dispute; agree on the conduct of the meetings; and agree on any other issues necessary to facilitate the settlement of the tax dispute.
Once the settlement meetings commence, the parties to the tax dispute or the parties’ appointed representatives are forbidden from communicating with the facilitator in the absence of the other party and any communication with the facilitator shall only be in relation to the tax dispute. During meetings convened by the facilitator, the parties or their appointed representatives are required to maintain confidentiality and uphold decorum; uphold integrity and fairness; make full disclosure of material facts and documents relevant to the tax dispute; and strictly adhere to the agreed timelines. If a party to a tax dispute is unable to meet any timelines agreed upon at a meeting convened by the facilitator, that party has to notify the facilitator and the other party in writing of the inability and specify the reasons for the inability. In event of failure by a party or their representative is without justifiable cause to attend a meeting convened by the facilitator, the facilitator may appoint another date for the meeting or terminate the process.
The regulations provide for the reasons for settlement proceedings including where a party to the tax dispute opts to terminate the proceedings and notifies the other party, the court or tribunal in writing of the intention to terminate the proceedings or where both parties to the tax dispute mutually agree to terminate the proceedings and notify the court or tribunal in writing. Further, the settlement proceedings may terminate where a party fails to attend three consecutive meetings convened by the facilitator without any justifiable cause or where the ninety days’ timeline required to resolve the dispute has lapsed and an extension of time by the court or the tribunal has not been granted. (2) Upon the termination of settlement proceedings, the facilitator is to send a notice of termination in writing to the parties and the matter stands referred back to the court or the tribunal.
The settlement agreement constitutes the decision between the parties and has to be dated and signed by the parties or their appointed representatives and witnessed by the facilitator. It forms the basis for preparation of tax a dispute resolution consent for filing before the court or tribunal and is binding to both parties. Such agreement is considered to be the full and final settlement of the dispute save where the parties have expressly specified otherwise in the Agreement. The agreement is also confidential and entered into on a “without prejudice” basis and does not form the basis for judicial precedent. If the parties fail to reach a settlement agreement, the tax dispute shall be referred back to the court or tribunal, as the case may be, for determination.
In case a tax dispute is settled wholly or partially a consent agreement between the parties to a tax dispute setting down the terms of the settlement agreement shall be filed with the court or tribunal, as the case may be. Such consent agreement between parties to a tax dispute shall be recorded by the court or tribunal as an order of the court or tribunal. Where a party to a tax dispute violates the terms of a settlement agreement between the parties, the other party may apply to the court or the tribunal for enforcement of the agreement. Each party is to bear its own costs for the settlement of the tax dispute out of court or the tribunal and pay any expert witness they call. Where a taxpayer nominated a facilitator, they shall bear any cost that may be payable to the facilitator. The Commissioner provides a venue for the meetings but where the other party prefers a different venue, that party shall bear the costs of that different venue.
*This article is part of developing series on Specialized Alternative Dispute Resolution in Kenya by Dr. Kariuki Muigua, PhD, Kenya’s ADR Practitioner of the Year 2021 (Nairobi Legal Awards), ADR Publisher of the Year 2021 and ADR Lifetime Achievement Award 2021 (CIArb Kenya). 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 2022.
The Tax Procedures (Settlement of Tax Disputes Out of Court or Tribunal) Regulations, 2020; Available at: http://kenyalaw.org/kl/fileadmin/pdfdownloads/LegalNotices/2020/LN123_2020.pdf (accessed on 28/01/2022).
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.
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.
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.
Former KCB Company Secretary Sues Over Unlawful Dismissal
CR Advocates LLP is the Kenyan Law Firm to Watch in 2023 after Epic 2022
John Ohaga SC Scoops Kenya and Africa Top Arbitrator Accolades
Dr. Kariuki Muigua, PhD: The Top Arbitrator in Africa
Court of Appeal Upholds Eviction of Radcliffes from Karen Land
Review: Journal of Conflict Management and Sustainable Development, Vol. 9, No. 1
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