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The Application of the Principle of Public Participation in Kenya



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.*

Environmental Management and Co-ordination Act, 1999 (EMCA) is the overarching framework law on natural resource management and provides for specific application of public participation. Other sectoral statutes enacted after EMCA also have provisions for specific application of public participation. Most natural resources sectoral laws enacted prior to 1999 have no provisions relating to public participation. This part will take an in-depth look at public participation before 1999 and specific aspects of public participation provided for under EMCA and post-EMCA sectoral laws.

Judicial Review

The administrative system of government aids decision-making in natural resource management through the statutory functions of diverse administrative bodies. Judicial review is a process through which a person aggrieved by a decision of an administrative body can seek redress in court. Judicial review is concerned with reviewing the decision-making process and not the merits of the decision itself. Some of the grounds upon which a person can bring a claim for judicial review are that the rules of natural justice were not followed during the process of decision-making. One important rule of natural justice, and which preceded the statutory requirements for public participation in natural resources management is the right to be heard. Before EMCA, most of the remedies sought against a public body which made a decision on natural resources without consulting the public were through judicial review.

In Nzioka and 2 others v Tiomin Kenya Ltd, the court stated that even if there was a distinct law on the environment, it was not exclusive and most environmental disputes were resolved by the application of principles of common law and administrative law. Public consultation is an important aspect to be taken into account by agencies when making decisions that affect members of the public. In Mada Holdings Ltd t/a Fig Tree Camp v County Council of Narok, the court issued an order of prohibition, stopping the respondent from charging the enhanced park entry fees because neither the applicant nor other stakeholders in the hotel industry had been consulted prior to revision of the said fees. Similarly, in Hassan and 4 others v KWS, the court held that KWS would be acting outside its powers if it were to translocate animals away from their natural habitat without express consent of the community. In Republic v Minister of Forestry and Wildlife and 2 Others ex parte Charles Oduor Okello and 5 Others, the court quashed the gazettement of Lake Kanyaboli National Reserve on the grounds that the Minister in gazetting the same did not consult all the interested parties and should have obtained the consent of the county council before proceeding to gazette the area.

Environmental Impact Assessment

Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is a tool that helps those involved in decision-making concerning development programs or projects to make their decisions based on the knowledge of the likely impacts that will be caused to the environment. EIA is an important tool for public participation in natural resources management. Internationally, the CBD requires public participation in EIA procedures.  The need for EIA was also captured in Principle 17 of the 1992 Rio Declaration on Environment and Development in the following terms: Environmental impact assessment, as a national instrument, shall be undertaken for proposed activities that are likely to have a significant impact on the environment and are subject to a decision of a competent authority.

In Kenya, EIA gets its legislative backing from EMCA. The procedure for EIA provided for under EMCA is designed to be quite comprehensive and to ensure public participation. The Act requires proponent of any project specified in the Second Schedule to undertake a full environmental impact assessment study and submit an environmental impact assessment study report to the Authority prior to being issued with any licence by the Authority: Provided that the Authority may direct that the proponent forego the submission of the environmental impact assessment study report in certain cases. The Act then provides that the EIA study report shall be publicised for two successive weeks in the Kenya Gazette, a local newspaper and inviting members of the public to give their comments either orally or in writing on the proposed project within a period not exceeding sixty days. The Authority may, after being satisfied as to the adequacy of an environmental impact assessment study, evaluation or review report, issue an environmental impact assessment licence on such terms and conditions as may be appropriate and necessary to facilitate sustainable development and sound environmental management.

In Bogonko v NEMA, the applicant sought an order to quash NEMA’s decision to stop his project of putting up a petrol station. NEMA contended that it issued the order to stop the construction because the applicant had failed to publish the EIA study report for two successive weeks and hence the public was not given sufficient notice to comment on the report. The court held that the purpose of advertisement as provided for by the law is to ensure that the public see the proposed project and give their comments as to whether the project is viable or not. In the present case, the members of the public were denied such an opportunity. The court, therefore, declined to quash the order stopping the project because according to it, the public interest far outweighed the applicant’s individual right to put up a petrol station.

Similarly, in Kwanza Estates Ltd. v KWS, the plaintiff sought orders to have KWS restrained from constructing a public toilet at the beach front as the toilet when in use would cause adverse environmental effects and devalue the plaintiffs prime beach property. KWS did not conduct an EIA before putting up the toilet. The court held that public participation was what informed the requirement for an EIA being done before any project commenced. The requirement for publicizing the report is what gave members of the public, like the plaintiff in this case, a voice in issues that may bear negatively on their right to a clean and healthy environment. The court proceeded to grant an injunction restraining KWS from constructing the toilet in the absence of an EIA to show how the waste from the toilet would be treated to prevent pollution in the ocean. EIA is a continuous process that goes on throughout the duration of the project.

In addition to EIA, EMCA also provides for Strategic environmental assessment (SEA) which should be undertaken much earlier in the decisionmaking process than project environmental impact assessment (EIA). While the parent Act (EMCA) was initially silent on SEA, the same was introduced via the Environmental Management and Co-ordination (Amendment) Act, 2015 (Amendment Act 2015). Whereas EIA concerns itself with the biophysical impacts of proposals only (e.g. effects on air, water, flora and fauna, noise levels, climate etc), SEA and integrated impact assessment analyze a range of impact types including social, health and economic aspects. SEA is, arguably, not a substitute for EIA or other forms of environmental assessment, but a complementary process and one of the integral parts of a comprehensive environmental assessment tool box.

Public Consultation

The Forest Conservation and Management Act, 2016 and the Water Act 2016 were both enacted after EMCA and both make similar provisions on public consultation. The only difference is that the provisions under the Water Act 2016 are in the main body of the statute while in the Forest Conservation and Management Act, they are in a schedule. These statutes give the requirements for public consultation which are almost similar to those of EIAs. They provide that where the law requires public consultation, the relevant entity shall publish a notice in relation to the proposed action in the Kenya gazette (for the Forest Conservation and Management Act), newspapers and local radio stations. The notice should invite written comments or objections to the proposed action from the public within sixty days104 of the publication of the notice. The said authority should then publish through the same media a notice that copies of the decision and reasons therefore are available for public inspection. The last provision is critical because in public participation, the public agency retains the ultimate decision making authority.

In Lake Naivasha Friends of the Environment v AG and 2 others, the question was whether the respondents complied with the law on public consultation in developing a Catchment Management Strategy. The respondents advertised the Catchment Management Strategy in the Kenya Gazette and in a local newspaper inviting the public to forward their comments. There were also meetings held with various stakeholders. The court found that the meetings and advertisements constituted sufficient consultations under the Water Act and that it was impractical for the respondents to contact and invite every interested individual personally to give their input. It also held that in implementing policy, it was impossible for the State to please each person or meet their individual interests. In some circumstances, the rights of the majority will be elevated over those of the individual.

*This article is an extract from the Article “Fostering the Principles of Natural Resources Management 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 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., “Fostering the Principles of Natural Resources Management in Kenya” Journal of Conflict Management and Sustainable Development (JCMSD) 8(1), p. 1; Available at: wp-content/uploads/2022/02/Fostering-the-Principles-of-Natural-Resources-Management-in-Kenya.pdf (accessed on 28th May 2022).

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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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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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