Ruto ends lawyers’ long wait to join Senior Counsel league

Friday, May 17th, 2024 08:03 | By
Erick Mutua. PHOTO/Print

President William Ruto has conferred the rank of Senior Counsel on eight Advocates of the High Court among them Charles Kanjama, Kamau Karori and Allen Gichuhi.

Ruto on Tuesday conferred the  eight lawyers with the highest honour in the legal fraternity at State House during the swearing in of  the 20 newly appointed judges.

The eight had been gazetted two years ago by retired President Uhuru Kenyatta but had not been conferred as required in law.

“We were gazetted and sworn in two  years ago, but we have been  waiting for the presidential conferment letters. So, our situation is interesting—gazetted by President Uhuru but conferred by President Ruto. We were sworn in before the Chief Justice two years ago and signed the Senior Counsel Roll,” Kanjama said. 

The coveted title is set out under the Advocates Act and is only taken up after an application by an advocate to the Committee on Senior Counsel after meeting all the requirements and being selected by the committee and the name later presented to the Chief Justice who then submits the list to the President.

Kanjama  has been an advocate of the High Court of Kenya of more than 20 years. He is a managing partner of Muma & Kanjama Advocates Co, a law firm that engages in litigation, dispute resolution practice, debt collection and commercial legal work.

Kanjama has years of experience in all branches of commercial law, including Public Law Litigation, Banking and Insurance, Succession Law, Family Law and Children, Intellectual property, Tort Law-Libel and General Tort, Building and Construction, General Contract, Employment Law and Criminal Law.

He is particularly keen on matters of Tax Law. Kanjama regularly gives legal insight on mainstream media.

Legal scene

Kanjama is a seasoned advocate known for his active involvement in Kenya’s legal scene. He made headlines in 2017 when his application to be an Amicus Curiae in the presidential election petition 2017 hearing at the Supreme Court was rejected.

He has also been a lawyer representing the Chief Justice led commission- Judicial Service Commission in several matters pending in court including the case by Court of Appeal Judge Sankale ole Kantai over his removal from office for being linked to the Killing of Dutch businessman Tob Cohen.

Another who was appointed to the role of Senior Counsel is advocate Kamau Karori  who is partner at DLA Piper Africa, Kenya (IKM Advocates in charge of the Dispute Resolution practice.

He has been involved in the resolution of many ground-breaking and high-profile commercial disputes in the high court, court of appeal and supreme court. He is also a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitration (Kenya branch), with extensive experience in commercial arbitration for which he is often retained by several multinationals and institutions to act in high-profile arbitration matters either as counsel or as an arbitrator.

Kamau has received accolades both from clients, peers and leading international directories including Chambers Global, where he has been consistently ranked in tier one in arbitration and is recognised as one of the leading lawyers in Kenya.

He was appointed as counsel to defend the Kenya government in a multibillion dollar investment arbitration claim which was determined in favour of Kenya in a momentous award delivered in October 2018 under the auspices of the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID).

Legal practice

  In recognition of his status and distinguished service to the nation, Kamau was recently granted the award by Moran of the Order of the Burning Spear (MBS). 

 Also conferred with the Senior Counsel are two former Presidents of the Law Society of Kenya,  Eric Mutua and Gichuhi.

Mutua is the founding and Managing Partner of the E.K. Mutua & Company Advocates, a medium-size corporate and commercial law firm established with a reputation of excellent and innovative legal practice for years now.

Since the founding of LSK in 1949, Mutua is the only President of the Law Society of Kenya to have served for four years having been elected for two consecutive terms of two years.

He served as the 46 Chairman/President of the Law Society of Kenya from 2012 to 2016 and oversaw the critical role LSK played in laying the ground for the peaceful first transition of Government under the Constitution of Kenya 2010. Eric is recognised as an excellent and formidable litigator and commercial lawyer and has successfully acted in dozens of precedent-setting and high value matters for individuals, corporates and public entities.

Mutua is an advocate of the High Court of Kenya of more than 28 years of good standing having been admitted to the bar in 1995.

He is a specialist in litigation and dispute resolution and has handled numerous complex commercial and constitutional cases in all levels Kenyan and regional courts and tribunals including High Court, Court of Appeal, Supreme Court of Kenya and East African Court of Justice (EACJ).

He also represents claimants and respondents in complex and contested arbitration claims before domestic and international arbitration panels.

One of the key cases Mutua has been involved in is representing Kenya Airport Authority (KAA) in the long-running landmark case of Mitu-Bell Welfare Society against  Kenya Airports Authority at the High Court, Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court.

In this case which was filed in High Court in 2011 and went all the way to Supreme Court, Mutua was defending KAA which was accused of forceful eviction without due notice and despite a Court order prohibiting evictions of more than 15,000 men, women and children from Mitumba village near Wilson Airport, through the demolition of their homes and schools, leaving them homeless.

On his side the former LSk boss Gichuhi is a leading Litigation Advocate with over 23 years of experience in Commercial Litigation, Administrative  Law and widely respected in the Banking and Corporate world for his impressive record in contentious mandates, unique litigation skills and sharp grasp of the Law.

He was the former president of the LSK from March 2018- March 2020 where he excelled in uplifting practice standards and improving the welfare of the lawyers in the country.

As a Chartered Arbitrator Gichuhi is regularly appointed in commercial disputes.

Mandated mediation

He was instrumental in drafting Kenya’s Court Mandated Mediation Rules (2005), Advocates Remuneration Orders (2006 and 2014), Practice Directions for the High Court and Court of Appeal (2014), updating the Chartered Institute Arbitration Rules (2020). Gichuhi is also a celebrated author, mentor and a charismatic presenter.

Another lawyer who got the honours to get the title of Senior Counsel is James Mungai Warui.  Before his appointment to his current post of Inspector General (Corporations), Warui worked as a Senior Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions, Office of the Director of Public Prosecution (ODPP) from 2014 to 2023.

During his tenure, Warui handled various major cases including the Anglo Leasing scandal. He was among the candidates that were interviewed by JSC for the Office of Judge of the High Court.

Others are McCourt Kevin Dermot, Mwaura Lilian Wakiya, Gathenji Mbuthi and Kibet Jinaro Kipkemoi,

Some of the requirements for a person to qualify for conferment of the rank of Senior Counsel include being an active legal practitioner and who undertakes training of other members in the legal profession and has not been found guilty of professional misconduct by the LSK Disciplinary Committee.

The candidate must be a person of integrity, irreproachable professional conduct and good character who has contributed to the development of the legal profession through scholarly writings and presentations.

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