Court halts Uhuru Kenyatta order against State contracts with private law firms

Economy

Court halts Uhuru Kenyatta order against State contracts with private law firms

Law Society of Kenya President Nelson Havi during an interview at the LSK’s offices in Nairobi on March 2, 2020. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

The High Court has suspended President Uhuru Kenyatta’s order barring Cabinet Secretaries and State departments from hiring private law firms unless approved by Attorney-General Kihara Kariuki.

Justice John Mativo’s order on Tuesday followed a suit filed by the Law Society of Kenya (LSK), which argues that President Kenyatta’s directive was illegal.

“For avoidance of any doubt, the order of stay herein above granted is directed to the accounting officers and Cabinet Secretaries in the National Government stopping them from implementing the actions specified in paragraph 4 of the Chamber Summons dated 20th July 2020 pending the hearing and determination of the substantive application,” Justice Mativo said.

In a virtual meeting with 85 government chiefs on Tuesday, President Kenyatta barred CSs and State departments from contracting external lawyers, unless with written approval of the AG. The President also directed all government institutions that have filed court cases against each other to terminate them within 21 days.

The communication to government heads did not state the reason for this but it is believed to be a cost cutting measure.

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But LSK moved to court arguing that the directive was unconstitutional since the Public Procurement Act provides guidelines to ministries, independent commissions, State agencies and institutions on procurement.

“I have carefully weighed the grounds cited in the application. The issues presented in this application establish an arguable case which ought to be interrogated by the court,” Justice Mativo said in the ruling.

The LSK sued the Attorney-General as the government representative.

Justice Mativo ordered Mr Kariuki to respond to the suit within 21 days.

LSK will then have 15 days to file any further affidavit.

The judge will mention the case on October 6 to confirm parties’ compliance with his directives and for them to highlight their written arguments.

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