Court halts directive to State agencies on procuring advocates
Bernice Mbugua @BerniceMuhindi
The High Court has suspended a government directive that State agencies and ministries need the Attorney General’s nod to hire external advocates.
Justice John Mativo issued the temporary order pending hearing and determination of a suit filed by the Law Society of Kenya Nairobi Branch.
“For avoidance of doubt the order of stay is directed to the accounting officers and cabinet secretaries in the national government stopping them from implementing the said directive,” ruled the Judge.
In July ministries, state departments and state agencies were directed to withdraw court cases filed against any other state agency in 14 days.
They were also directed not to contract external counsel without the written approval of the Attorney General; and terminate, within 21 days, all external advocates who had been contracted without prior grant of the concurrence of the Attorney-General.
However, the LSK Nairobi Branch moved to court to challenge the directive arguing their members were not party to deliberations and did not participate in the proceedings that led to the directive that would imminently terminate their contractual services with various state agencies and public institutions.
“Ordinarily, the services of outside counsel are competitively procured individually by such state agencies and public institutions through an elaborate and detailed statutory mechanism set out under the Public Procurement and Disposal Act No. 33,” argued LSK in court documents.
Through lawyers Ahmednasir Abdullahi and Omwanza Ombati, the LSK Nairobi Branch, which says it represents 7,000 advocates who practice their trade within Nairobi or its environs, claim the move is unconstitutional.
According to the lawyer’s body, the directive comes hot on the heels of many serious questions raised by the LSK on the impartiality and quality of the legal advice that the current Attorney General has been giving the President and the government in recent times. The case will be mentioned on October 6.