Time to rescue Kenya’s legal profession



What happened to the value, stature and esteem of Kenya’s legal practice? Lately, actions and decisions of magistrates, judges and advocates are akin to a comedy theatre. Kenya’s entire legal practice (Judiciary included) must be prevented from remaining a circus.

The hallmark of a civilized community, society, county or nation lies in its ability and capacity to sustainably adjudicate & arbitrate disputes with reason and fairness.

The overwhelming focus on frivolous litigation and injunctions in Kenya reflects deep malaise in the Judiciary and our entire legal practice. Frivolity is particularly rampant in constitutional disputes and matters of great public interest. Social and economic progress is now a prisoner to pettiness determined, initiated and sustained by legal practitioners.

Citizens are alarmed. What shocks further is the fact that a majority of key constitutional offices in Kenya require formal legal qualification. We simply decided to be governed by lawyers. And the lawyers have by conduct absconded duty to land and country.

To cite examples; The in-out gubernatorial electoral disputes in Embu county and Nairobi County. Bail granted to terror suspects who turn out on the streets with more IEDs. The start-stop of public transport rules and regulations. The on-off decisions of parking charges within Nairobi city. Ease of acquiring injunctive orders by singular parties to key cases of public interest, quarrels and turf wars in the judicial arm of government, ongoing ‘malumbano’ between ‘Bunge’ and ‘Mahakama’ in respect of constitutional decisions and lastly, rampant indiscipline amongst Kenya’s legal practitioners.

There is a crescendo of complaints. All whining about ‘the new low’ within Kenya’s legal practice. Giggles, tickles and amusement seems to be the public reaction of the moment as citizens afford slack to judges, lawyers and prosecutors. However, Patience is running out. Frustration may boil over. It is time for the esteemed learned friends to settle down and demonstrate understanding of the constitution to the general public.

The Law Society of Kenya (LSK) must take leadership of the mission to re-ignite confidence in the rule of law. LSK is member of the increasingly vibrant umbrella body of Kenya’s private sector namely KEPSA. LSK should take lead in a constructive ‘adult to adult’ Roundtable session between Judges, prosecutors, lawyers, civil society and KEPSA.

Such parley would map out a rapid result action plan to invigorate confidence in Kenya’s dispute resolution mechanisms and commence rescue of the legal profession. LSK ought to halt the voluminous frivolous litigation clogging Kenyan courts today.

Rescue of Kenya’s legal profession is now a necessity. Active professional bodies and industry associations are ready and willing to rally support for LSK to overcome the morass and decay. Kenya’s economy will NOT perform without sound lawyers, magistrates and judges. Good legal practice accelerates competitiveness and growth of the economy.

Over to you LSK.

(Igathe is the Chairman PIEA, KAM and a Director at KEPSA)

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