By Dr. Kariuki Muigua, PhD (Leading Environmental Law Scholar, Sustainable Development Policy Advisor, Natural Resources Lawyer and Dispute Resolution Expert from Kenya), The African Arbitrator of the Year 2022, Kenya’s ADR Practitioner of the Year 2021, CIArb (Kenya) Lifetime Achievement Award 2021 and ADR Publisher of the Year 2021*
The following are proposals for the way forward in embracing technology for enhanced efficiency in access to justice in the legal profession.
Investing in Legal Technology
The challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic have brought into focus the need to embrace technology as a tool of access to justice in the legal profession. Legal technology such as the use of virtual court sessions has now been embraced by the judiciary. Further, law firms have embraced legal technology through aspects such as remote working. While this technology has been widely adopted due to the challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, there is need for both the judiciary and law practitioners to continue embracing legal technology post COVID-19. This necessitates investment in legal technology in order to enhance efficiency, cost effectiveness and expeditiousness in the administration of justice. Investment in technology is also crucial in helping lawyers and law firms to reap from the fruits of globalization and enhance their appeal at the global stage.
Lawyers can use the technology to tap into the ever growing international Alternative modes of Dispute Resolution such as international arbitration, mediation and Online Disputes Resolution (ODR) especially in the face of rapidly growing networking and borderless legal practice, with the introduction of diverse social media platforms that allow interconnectivity beyond the national boundaries and enabling crossborder relationships between clients and their lawyers and law firms amongst themselves. They should tap into the tremendous growth of international trade, interstate deals, bilateral and multilateral treaties, where legal practice is increasingly becoming global and smart practitioners must therefore up their game with international best practices as with the advent of internet, telecommunication systems, clients are no longer limited to lawyers in their regions nor are they limited to the need for legal services within their jurisdiction. Investment in legal technology is likely to enhance the role of the judiciary in the administration of justice and promote the success of law firms.
Safeguarding the Privacy of Data
The use of legal technology is associated with certain risks and challenges as far as data is concerned such as cyber-attacks and data breaches. There is need for the legal profession to invest in data protection infrastructure in order to enhance efficiency and protect clients’ data regardless of the status of the local data protection laws. This may also necessitate relooking into the existing laws on data protection in order to enhance their effectiveness. Further, it is essential to equip players in the legal profession such as judges and lawyers with necessary skills and knowledge regarding data protection including information security management. Through this, it becomes possible to guarantee the privacy, confidentiality and integrity of data available to legal practitioners.
Rolling Out E-Literacy Training/Education
As the legal profession continues to embrace technology, there is need for sustained and enhanced e-literacy training on the efficient use of such technology. The training should target all players in the legal profession including judicial officers, lawyers and staff. The Judiciary can liaise with relevant stakeholders including the government and technology firms in order to facilitate such training. Such training should also target law students whereby law schools should design relevant courses to be included in their curricula in order to arm them with relevant skills. The training should also target the public in order to enable citizens have meaningful interaction with the justice sector through platforms such as the e-filing portal. Such training can enhance the capacity of judicial officers and lawyers and contribute towards enhanced use of legal technology. Further, staff such as law clerks should also be trained on the use of legal technology in order to prevent the risk of losing jobs by ensuring that they are adept with new developments and are able to discharge their roles through the use of technology.
With the ongoing investment in physical infrastructure to enhance the use of technology in the administration of justice, there is need to put in place legal and institutional frameworks to not only facilitate the uptake of technological developments but also to ensure that there is an effective regulatory framework to deal with numerous challenges that arise from legal technology. Institutions such as the Law Society of Kenya should enhance their capacity and that of lawyers in legal technology through measures such as incorporating training in Information Communication Technology (ICT) in its Continuing Professional Development (CPD) training. Further, legal institutions such as the judiciary and law firms should be collaborative, diverse, international, technologically friendly, and entrepreneurial in order to enhance their capacity in the use of legal technology.
Enhanced e-filing and service of Court Pleadings and Documents
The judiciary should consider fully adopting and shifting to electronic systems for filing documents. This would save both law firms and courts enormous resources in terms of finances and storage facilities for the hardcopy documents. It would also enhance efficiency in terms of accessibility and review of the documents as both sides can access the documents from anywhere. All that is required is enhancing the security of such data to safeguard privacy. This can be achieved through investing in modern infrastructure as well as offering information management training to the staff charged with such.
Amendment of Remuneration order to guide on Legal fees payment by clients
The traditional remuneration technique by lawyers generally entail billing for time and services offered based on the Advocates Remuneration Order. However, there is need to implore members of the Bar to transition away from the traditional billable time and services system to alternative billing strategies by understanding that apart from “legal services” and “time”, lawyers are also selling knowledge, which may include fixed, results based, hourly, graduated, or any such combination. This situation is further enhanced by legal technology that allows lawyers to serve clients or attend court virtually without the need for physical meetings. This therefore creates a need to consider amending/revising the current Remuneration Order so as to accommodate these new possibilities.
A Possibility for Virtual Law Firms in Kenya
The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in the closure of some law firms law firms with others allowing employees to work from home a situation that still persists at the moment. This situation has seen cases where some law firms have decided to close their physical offices and turning to virtual firms where their employees will permanently work from home. There is a possibility that this trend will continue with lawyers turning to virtual law firms due to the flexibility and cost effectiveness associated with running such firms. It is thus argued that for the profession to stay relevant and thrive, lawyers should consider investing in modern legal practices such virtual law firms in order to reap from the benefits of technology59 . However, the growth of virtual law firms will inevitably come with certain challenges including those of regulation. The regulators of provision of legal services should adequately prepare to respond to the impact of technology on law practice and lawyer regulation, including the growth in cloud computing, virtual law offices, and outsourcing of legal services60
Globalization of Legal Services through Enhanced Law Firms Collaboration
Some law firms in Kenya have already tapped into the benefits of legal technology by collaborating with other firms in Africa and beyond. Examples of such law firms in Kenya include Bowmans, Iseme Kamau & Maema (IKM) Advocates and Dentons Hamilton Harrison & Mathews that have that have expanded their reach in Africa and beyond through alliances with other firms and opening offices in foreign countries. Such alliances give law firms a global appeal with the ability to access a wider clientele where they are able to tap into the benefits of technology to serve clients across different jurisdictions. There is need for more local firms to consider the idea in order to broaden their services and serve clients across different jurisdictions.
*This article is an extract from published article “Embracing Technology for Enhanced Efficiency and Access to Justice in the Legal Profession,” by Dr. Kariuki Muigua, PhD, the African Arbitrator of the Year 2022, Kenya’s ADR Practitioner of the Year 2021 (Nairobi Legal Awards), CIArb (Kenya) ADR Lifetime Achievement Award 2021 and ADR Publisher of the Year 2021. Dr. Kariuki Muigua is a Foremost Dispute Resolution Expert in Africa ranked among Top 6 Arbitrators in Kenya by Chambers and Partners, Leading 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 and is ranked among the Top 5 Arbitrators in Kenya in 2022 by The Lawyer Africa.
Muigua, K., “Embracing Technology for Enhanced Efficiency and Access to Justice in the Legal Profession,” Available at: http://kmco.co.ke/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/Embracing-Technology-for-Enhanced-Efficiency-and-Access-to-Justice-in-the-Legal-Profession-Dr.-Kariuki-Muigua.pdf (accessed 03 July 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.
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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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