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Dimensions of Public Participation in Kenya as Outlined in Case Law



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 dimensions of public participation are the boundaries within which the activity should fall for it to be properly termed as public participation. It requires effective protection of the human right to hold and express opinions and seek, receive and impart ideas as protected under the freedom of expression in the Constitution. Public participation also requires the right of access to appropriate, comprehensible and timely information held by public institutions. In Meza Galana and 3 others v AG and 2 others,[1] community representatives from Tana River District filed a suit against the defendants seeking, inter alia, a declaration that the legal notice declaring Tana Primate Reserve to be a national reserve to be quashed as it was not a valid notice. The court held that the legal notice was indeed not valid as the community had not been made aware of the decision to gazette the area as a national reserve and their views had not been sought before the decision was made.

The question of what constitutes public participation was also canvassed in the case of British American Tobacco Ltd v Cabinet Secretary for the Ministry of Health & 5 others,[2] the court stated that:

“From these decisions and others that were cited before us by the parties’ advocates, it is clear that public participation is a mandatory requirement in the process of making legislation including subsidiary legislation. The threshold of such participation is dependent on the particular legislation and the circumstances surrounding the legislation. Suffice to note that the concerned State Agency or officer should provide reasonable opportunity for public participation and any person concerned or affected by the intended legislation should be given an opportunity to be heard. Public participation does not necessarily mean that the views given must prevail. It is sufficient that the views are taken into consideration together with any other factors in deciding on the legislation to be enacted … What the appellant is really saying is that although they had their say, their views were not adequately considered. However, the fact that the views of the appellant and the interested parties did not carry the day was neither here nor there. All that the learned judge needed to establish was the fact that that step of involving the public and any other affected persons was taken. Given the facts that were before the learned judge, we have no reason to fault the learned judge for finding that the stakeholder meetings, discussions and communications constituted adequate public participation and consultation.”

In the Matter of the Mui Coal Basin Local Community case[3] the court summarized what entails public participation as follows:

“97. From our analysis of the case law, international law and comparative law, we find that public participation in the area of environmental governance as implicated in this case, at a minimum, entails the following elements or principles:

(a) First, it is incumbent upon the government agency or public official involved to fashion a programme of public participation that accords with the nature of the subject matter. It is the government agency or Public Official who is to craft the modalities of public participation but in so doing the government agency or Public Official must take into account both the quantity and quality of the governed to participate in their own governance. Yet the government agency enjoys some considerable measure of discretion in fashioning those modalities.

(b) Second, public participation calls for innovation and malleability depending on the nature of the subject matter, culture, logistical constraints, and so forth. In other words, no single regime or programme of public participation can be prescribed and the Courts will not use any litmus test to determine if public participation has been achieved or not. The only test the Courts use is one of effectiveness. A variety of mechanisms may be used to achieve public participation. Sachs J. of the South African Constitutional Court stated this principle quite concisely thus: “The forms of facilitating an appropriate degree of participation in the law-making process are indeed capable of infinite variation. What matters is that at the end of the day, a reasonable opportunity is offered to members of the public and all interested parties to know about the issues and to have an adequate say. What amounts to a reasonable opportunity will depend on the circumstances of each case.[4]

(c) Third, whatever programme of public participation is fashioned, it must include access to and dissemination of relevant information.[5] In relevant portion, the Court stated: “Participation of the people necessarily requires that the information be availed to the members of the public whenever public policy decisions are intended and the public be afforded a forum in which they can adequately ventilate them.” In the instant case, environmental information sharing depends on availability of information. Hence, public participation is on-going obligation on the state through the processes of Environmental Impact Assessment – as we will point out below.

(d) Fourth, public participation does not dictate that everyone must give their views on an issue of environmental governance. To have such a standard would be to give a virtual veto power to each individual in the community to determine community collective affairs. A public participation programme, especially in environmental governance matters must, however, show intentional inclusivity and diversity. Any clear and intentional attempts to keep out bona fide stakeholders would render the public participation programme ineffective and illegal by definition. In determining inclusivity in the design of a public participation regime, the government agency or Public Official must take into account the subsidiarity principle: those most affected by a policy, legislation or action must have a bigger say in that policy, legislation or action and their views must be more deliberately sought and taken into account.

(e) Fifth, the right of public participation does not guarantee that each individual’s views will be taken as controlling; the right is one to represent one’s views – not a duty of the agency to accept the view given as dispositive. However, there is a duty for the government agency or Public Official involved to take into consideration, in good faith, all the views received as part of public participation programme. The government agency or Public Official cannot merely be going through the motions or engaging in democratic theatre so as to tick the Constitutional box.

(f) Sixthly, the right of public participation is not meant to usurp the technical or democratic role of the office holders but to cross-fertilize and enrich their views with the views of those who will be most affected by the decision or policy at hand.

98. If we take these principles into account, can we give the public participation programme designed for the Coal Mining Project a clean bill of health? We think it meets the threshold subject to continuing engagement.…”

These cases generally capture the current trend in Kenyan courts as far as implementation and promotion of the principle of public participation in environmental matters is concerned.

*This article is an extract from the Article Fostering the Principles of Natural Resources Management in Kenya, 8(1) Journal of Conflict Management and Sustainable Development, p. 1 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 a foremost Environmental Law and Natural Resources Lawyer and Scholar, Sustainable Development Advocate and Conflict Management Expert in Kenya. 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.



[1] HCCC No. 341 of 1993, [2007] eKLR.

[2] British American Tobacco Ltd v Cabinet Secretary for the Ministry of Health & 5 others [2017] eKLR, Civil Appeal 112 of 2016.

[3] Mui Coal Basin Local Community & 15 others v Permanent Secretary Ministry of Energy & 17 others [2015] eKLR, Constitutional Petition Nos 305 of 2012, 34 of 2013 & 12 of 2014(Formerly Nairobi Constitutional Petition 43 of 2014) (Consolidated).

[4] Minister of Health and Another v New Clicks South Africa (Pty) Ltd and Others 2006 (2) SA 311 (CC)).

[5] See Republic vs The Attorney General & Another ex parte Hon. Francis Chachu Ganya (JR Misc. App. No. 374 of 2012).

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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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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