UK-based witnesses to testify in Karen land case through video conference
A Nairobi High Court has given the go-ahead for three United Kingdom witnesses to testify via a video link in the disputed Sh500 million pieces of land in Karen and a property in Upper Hill, both in Nairobi.
The directive is a blow to Agnes Kagure and businessman Thomas Mutaha who wanted the three appear in court physically to testify.
The two filed a suit against lawyer Guy Spencer Elms accusing him of forging signatures on the Will of the late Roger Robson who died in 2012 and who owned the two parcels of land.
Kagure claims that she bought the disputed piece of land in Karen from the deceased, for Sh100 million in 2011.
While Mutaha, claims to be a director of Plovers Haunt Limited, the company that rightfully owns the Upper Hill land.
He claims that he was given for free all shares in the said company.
Roger Bryan Robson died in the year 2012 and left a will with Spencer who was his lawyer.
Roger who owned the two properties both estimated to be worth over US$5 million, had indicated the estates should be sold and proceeds shared between his nephew and charitable institutions in Kenya that focus on environmental conservation.
However the two have opposed the said Will, accusing lawyer Spencer Elms (above) of forging it.
Spencer filed an application to have the three witnesses: Michael Fairfax Robson who is a brother to the deceased, Sean Battye and Richard J. Brooks give evidence via video conferencing on grounds that they were unable to travel to Kenya to testify in the matter for one reason or another.
“Michael who is aged 70 years old and the only living brother to the deceased has a mobility problem after undergoing a knee surgery associated with childhood Polio,” claimed Spencer in court documents.
Richard J. Brooks on the other hand is a Legal Practitioner and Notary Public in the United Kingdom and due to his busy schedule, he cannot be able to travel to Kenya
“His evidence is necessary as it concerns the question whether he witnessed Michael Fairfax Robson’s signature,” claimed Spencer in court documents.
Spencer further claims Sean Battye who is a co-executor in the will is alleged to have suffered third degree burns on his hands in the year 2018, and has to be under constant medication and supervision thus requiring great care to avoid infection which could lead to him losing his hands totally.
“British High Commission has indicated that it will assist in facilitating the video conferencing should need arise,” claimed Spencer.
Kagure and Mutaha opposed the application saying it was made in bad faith and with the ill intention to mislead the Court.
“The reasons given for non-attendance of witnesses physically in court are not sufficient to enable the Court direct hearing through video conferencing.
That Michael Fairfax Robson is a key witness in the case and his travel expenses can be catered for by the estate,” Mutaha argued.
He further contended that Michael’s replying affidavits are viciously contested hence the need to demand his physical appearance.
He averred that it was necessary for the witnesses to attend court so that the court is able to observe witnesses’ demeanour.