Why Law Society of Kenya has lost credibility

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JASPER MBIUKI

There was a time; long ago, when the council of the Law Society of Kenya (LSK) was a non-partisan, conscientious and principled champion of the ordinary man’s legal interests. The council was at the forefront of the struggle for the reintroduction of Multi-Party Democracy and the expansion of democratic space.

When the LSK council spoke, Kenya and the world listened. Even its detractors and most ardent critics; though they may have disagreed with its positions, acknowledged that it was a fiercely independent and honourable institution.

A lot has changed since those days. Over time the council has abandoned its lofty position as the advocate of the public interest and descended into the dirt and mire of the political gladiatorial arena; becoming a combatant when it should have remained a neutral commentator. In doing so the council’s words have lost their once thunderous impact and its opinions are now taken as being representative only of particular partisan political interests.

The politicization of the council of the LSK is so acute that even the Supreme Court has taken judicial notice of it. The LSK’s application to act as amicus curiae before the Supreme Court during the just concluded presidential election petitions was emphatically rejected by the apex court; which found that the council was biased against some of the respondents in the petitions.

Let us pause for a moment and reflect on that finding. The highest court in the land rejected the participation of the statutory body meant to advance the public interest inside and outside of the courtroom in the most riveting court case in Kenyan history, because the court rightly felt that the council is biased against His Excellency Hon Uhuru Kenyatta (president) and His Excellency Hon William Ruto (deputy president). This is a damning indictment of how far the LSK has fallen from its once lofty position.

The LSK council has an important role to play in commentating on issues where law and politics intersect. However, the council must do so in a non-partisan and even handed manner. It is a betrayal of the noble role of the Law Society within our nation for the council to stoop to the level of the plethora of briefcase political NGOs, with their trademark proclivity for rushing to the media to spout whatever message their paymaster of the day wants propagated.

There has been a raft of major pieces of legislation that have been enacted which will fundamentally change the relationship between the citizens and the government. New laws on consumer protection, policing and public welfare have come into force and not elicited any comment from the LSK council. These areas are not as glamorous or as sensational as the political issues of the day but they are what actually affect the lives of ordinary Kenyans.

Has the LSK council made you aware of the new powers granted to police officers to search your private property without a warrant? Has the LSK council educated you on the new avenues of redress that consumers have regarding misleading advertising and sales promotions? No. Instead the council maintains a myopic fascination with grabbing headlines and acquiring celebrity status for the council members.

The LSK council is meant to advance the public interest, not merely what the public finds interesting. Its noble work is best done behind the scenes and away from the media limelight that the council’s members seem to crave so much.

The council must refrain from partisanship because it reduces the effectiveness of the LSK in advocating for the public interest and the rule of law. When the council expresses political favouritism it becomes unable to participate in the crucial court cases of the day or comment convincingly on divisive issues. This Council is so tainted by the colours of one particular political party that it simply has no credibility when it speaks on anything even remotely touching on politics.

Let the LSK return to its esteemed roots as the non-partisan advocate of the public interest. Let the council cease acting like the spokesperson for a particular end of the political spectrum.

Let the council divest itself of the mentality that in order to remain relevant in Kenyan society it must comment on every hotbed political issue, while remaining silent on the more pressing but unglamorous legal issues of the day. Let the council respect the diversity of political opinions held by its members.

Let the council not be an isolated and dictatorial unit that weighs in on every major political issue without seeking the opinion of the members. Let the LSK council reclaim its proper role in our country.

(Jasper Mbiuki, is an Advocate of the High Court of Kenya and TNA’s Secretary for Legal Affairs [email protected])

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  • I am not currently a paying member of LSK, But there was a time I supported my then boss Kenneth Kiplagat and his challenge at court that he should not be forced to pay mandatory LSK fees that end up being used in partisan political agendas. I still believe in Kiplagat’s perspective. I am also a lawyer. Don’t force me to make mandatory payments only to be used by LSK in partisan agendas. The Court was wrong in the ruling against Kiplagat by only saying Kiplagat had no cause. They should have gone further to say how LSK contribibutions should be used. Should the contributions extent to politics?

  • aruh

    r we hungry or what? ask mombasa sentor and maina kiai? …..

  • Michael Juma

    And who is the public according to you whose interest the LSK is supposed to champion?

    • Domingo

      40+ million Kenyans minus politicians

  • Tone down, we get your point. So in the era of multi party politics was LSK the darling of the opposition as opposed to the then ruling party KANU, now reincarnated as Jubilee Coalition? I still believe LSK is advancing its role as statutorily required by telling Kenyans on the characters of people who present themselves for public offices?? Should they keep quiet when a presidential candidate is accused and charged by the ICC of crimes known to humanity? Should they keep quiet and the attendant consequences? LSK should not be directed on how it should conduct itself by political busybodies!!

    • Domingo

      Yes they were the darlings of the opposition then, but they are not a static body, leadership and alliances changed long ago, so did their focus. LSK cannot divorce itself from the critique of your so called busy bodies because they have become the embodiment of the very same political busybodies you so describe.

      Just in case you missed it- SCK ruling. “All the petitioners and respondents however objected to the LSK joining the case…….”

  • Vin

    I totally agree with you. LSK has totally lost its credibility, needless to say, it has become a mouth piece of one individual trying to advance his own interest. It should however be remembered that individual views are not particularly the views of LSK members and as a member I am totally against the current practice being perpetuated by those we elected to office. you should bare in mind that LSK represents a diverse population of people who have different opinions and the least that LSK leaders could do is to be neutral. I was actually very glad when they were denied their request by the Supreme court.

  • Operation2017

    LSK is simply doing their job. You cannot call their position biased when they were standing on the side of the public interest. If you remain neutral when an elephant steps on a mouse then you have taken the side of the elephant.

    • Ked

      See how a Kenyan woman became a millionaire by buying and selling
      accidented cars, Very interesting. Go to (ACCIDENTEDCARS.COM) to see the
      various methods and companies she used (ACCIDENTEDCARS.COM). Wake up
      Kenyans

  • Ked

    Just See how a Kenyan woman became a millionaire by buying and selling
    accidented cars, Very interesting. Go to (ACCIDENTEDCARS.COM) to see the
    various methods and companies she used (ACCIDENTEDCARS.COM). Wake up
    Kenyans

  • ali mohamed

    LSK now is more associated with hawkership than brainwork. LSK chair behaves more like a tout than anybody with any legal knowledge,

  • JR

    On Point kabisa!

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