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Proposals for Making Kenya a Preferred Seat for International Arbitration



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 Publisher of the Year 2021 and CIArb (Kenya) Lifetime Achievement Award 2021*

Kenya has a promising future as the preferred seat and venue for international arbitration. All that is required is for the stakeholders to work closely in order to eliminate the challenges identified in this chapter as well as ensuring that the law and institutional practice stays up to date as far as international trends in international arbitration are concerned. Here are some proposals for making Kenya a preferred seat for international arbitration:

Capacity Building on Arbitration

Kenya has qualified and experienced arbitrators who are arbitrating commercial disputes around Africa. Indeed, following the revival of the East African Community and the expansion of regional trade, the possibility of Nairobi becoming a regional centre for arbitration is very high. Therefore, the prospects of international commercial arbitration in Kenya are really promising. However, with the changing trends at the global scene, there is a need for the practitioners and the judges to stay abreast with what is happening. In addition, with the international commercial arbitration taking root in Kenya in recent years and the ever increasing institutional capacity, there is a need to equip students and practitioners with the basic knowledge in their quest for expertise in the area.

Marketing and Arbi-Tourism

The stakeholders in arbitration sector in the country can utilise arbi-tourism to market Kenya as a preferred seat and venue for international arbitration. Arbitourism (arbitration tourism) may be defined as the promotion of arbitration alongside tourism. Kenya is known globally for its tourism sector and thus, the stakeholders in the arbitration and dispute resolution sector should make use of this fame. While marketing Kenya as a tourist destination, there is a need for the ADR stakeholders to consider working with the ministry of tourism and all other relevant ministries to market Kenya as a friendly seat and venue for international arbitration. This could be done by providing incentives in terms of subsidized hotel and park rates for those who are in the country for international arbitration. The relevant government and private stakeholders should also take advantage of international conferences and seminar forums to market the country as a friendly and viable seat and venue for international arbitration.

Enhancing Security

Over the last several years, Kenya has had an unprecedented level of insecurity from both internal and external forces such as the Somali Islamist group, Alshabaab. This has negatively affected the image of Kenya as a safe destination for tourism and business due to this increased insecurity. While the government has done much in improving security over the years, the perception that the larger horn of Africa is insecure still affects Kenya’s rating. If effort towards marketing Kenya as a preferred seat and venue for international arbitration are to bear fruits, then there is a need for the stakeholders in the security department to work closely with other regional leaders to eradicate the insecurity or the perception for the same since security is paramount for both local practitioners and the foreign ones, together with their clients.

Adherence to the Rule of law

The Constitution of Kenya, 2010 provides under Article 259(1) that the Constitution should be interpreted in a manner that: promotes its purposes, values and principles; advances the rule of law, and the human rights and fundamental freedoms in the Bill of Rights; permits the development of the law; and contributes to good governance. While international arbitration has developed over the years to stand as a transnational legal order, its outcomes still heavily rely on national courts and laws in conservatory orders as well as recognition and enforcement of arbitral should also take advantage of international conferences and seminar forums to market the country as a friendly and viable seat and venue for international arbitration.

Supportive Institutional Framework and Informed Judges

International arbitration is an important component of the right of access to justice especially in commercial disputes. There have been efforts over the years to ensure that the legal and institutional framework on access to justice in Kenya achieves that: fulfilment of the right of access to justice. Notably, this right comes with several components as a means to an end. In the case of Dry Associates Limited v Capital Markets Authority & Another; Interested Party Crown Berger (K) Ltd71, the High Court outlined some of the components of access to justice as follows: [110] “Access to justice is a broad concept that defies easy definition. It includes the enshrinement of rights in the law; awareness of and understanding of the law; easy availability of information pertinent to one’s rights; equal right to the protection of those rights by the law enforcement agencies; easy access to the justice system particularly the formal adjudicatory processes; availability of physical legal infrastructure; affordability of legal services; provision of a conducive environment within the judicial system; expeditious disposal of cases and enforcement of judicial decisions without delay.”

Further, in Kenya Bus Service Ltd & another v Minister for Transport & 2 others [2012] eKLR, the Court affirmed that “the right of access to justice protected by the Constitution involves the right of ordinary citizens being able to access remedies and relief from the Courts. The Supreme Court also elaborated on the confines of access to justice in the case of Francis Karioko Muruatetu & another v Republic72, in the following words: [57] Thus, with regard to access to justice and fair hearing, the State through the courts, ensures that all persons are able to ventilate their disputes. Access to justice includes the right to a fair trial. If a trial is unfair, one cannot be said to have accessed justice. In this respect, when a murder convict’s sentence cannot be reviewed by a higher court, he is denied access to justice which cannot be justified in light of Article 48 of the Constitution.

International Cooperation

As already pointed out, international arbitration developed over the years to achieve the status of a transnational legal order. As such, its development and continued acceptance heavily relies on cooperation amongst various states in both developing and developed world to recognise and enforce the outcome of international arbitration in their jurisdictions. There is therefore a need for Kenya work closely with other likeminded states in Africa and beyond in order to build its capacity and have a ready market for its institutions.

Easy Access and Travel to Kenya

One of the factors that make any country to lag behind in attracting international arbitration practitioners and parties’ preference for a country as their preferred seat for their arbitration is difficulty in accessing the same physically, should they require traveling there. The Free Trade Agreement (FTA) is set to ease the entry of established US companies into the local market. If concluded, the reciprocal trade deal would grant the US government unfettered entry for its companies into nearly all segments of Kenya’s economy, including the heavily guarded ones. While this may come with intended and unintended repercussions for the job market for Kenyans and local companies, the same is also likely to bring some work for the local arbitrators and institutions, if they are ready to grab the opportunity and well prepared for the same. As for foreign parties that may not have their businesses running local subsidiaries, they can benefit from government to government agreements on either complete waiver of visas or convenient arrangements that might allow business persons entering the country to get their visas on arrival.

Kenya is among the very few states in the world that offer visa exemption to quite a number of particular nationalities. Currently, the citizens of 43 states can travel to Kenya without a visa, only a passport is necessary to enter the country, and there’s no need to get a Kenyan visa. The only exceptions to this rule involve the citizens of Rwanda and Uganda, part of the East African Agreement, who can travel to Kenya only with their Identity Cards. As a way of promoting Kenya as a preferred seat for international arbitration, Kenyan stakeholders in arbitration may consider approaching the Government for either visa free entry or specialized processes for visa processing for parties who choose to carry out their arbitration in the country or choose Kenya as their preferred seat and decide to visit the country for business.

Effective Supporting Institutions

As already mentioned elsewhere, Kenyan courts have shown a positive attitude towards ADR and arbitration and are willing to minimize court intervention as envisaged under the relevant laws. There is a need for ensuring that this continues and also ensuring that lawyers and judicial officers are not used by parties to frustrate the arbitration process. Only then will the practice of international arbitration in the country grow and attract international clientele.

Enhanced Access to Internet and Cybersecurity

With the world becoming global village due to the advancement in technology, it is possible for parties to carry out their international arbitration proceedings from different parts of the world. Technology has also become a valued part of arbitration proceedings and has been embraced by all the major arbitral institutions across the world. The corona virus pandemic has forced many professions to resort to the use of virtual forums to conduct meetings. While Kenya has made considerable steps in enhancing access and the use of internet in the country, the same cannot be said to be satisfactory. The country has also made some progress in putting in place cybersecurity law, a step towards enhancing trust for dispute resolvers and their clients. There is however a need for the local arbitration practitioners and institutions to borrow a leaf from their international counterparts and invest in the appropriate software and hardware necessary for virtual arbitration. Technology can save parties valuable time and resources and still achieve justice.

Perception of Corruption

Kenya’s justice sector and its key players have consistently been rated poorly as far as corruption index is concerned. Section 35 confers the High court powers to set aside an arbitral award under the circumstances provided under that provision. Notably, Section 35(2) of the Arbitration Act sets out the grounds upon which the High Court will set aside an arbitral award upon the applicant furnishing proof. These grounds include, inter alia: where fraud, undue influence or corruption affected the making of the award. The High Court may also decline recognition and/enforcement of an award if its making was affected by fraud, corruption or undue influence. There is a need to fight corruption in order to create conducive environment for international arbitration and eliminate any notion or perception that the government is likely to interfere with private commercial arbitration matters.

*This article is an extract from the Book: Settling Disputes Through Arbitration in Kenya, 4th Edition (Chapter Thirteen), Glenwood Publishers, Nairobi, 2022 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 among the top 5 leading lawyers and dispute resolution experts in Kenya by the Chambers Global Guide 2022.


Muigua, K., Settling Disputes Through Arbitration in Kenya, 4th Edition, Glenwood Publishers, Nairobi, 2022, p. 261 to 264.

News & Analysis

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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Court of Appeal Upholds Eviction of Radcliffes from Karen Land




Adrian Radcliffe, the Expatriate Squatter, Evicted from Karen Property by Innocent Purchaser for Value

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.

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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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