LSK moves to resolve payment row

January 14, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 14 – The Chairman of the Law Society of Kenya (LSK) will meet with leaders of the East Africa Law Society (EALS) next week to thrash out an ongoing row over millions of shillings in alleged unpaid fees.

The regional law body last year accused the LSK of failing to pay lawyers’ membership fees between 2000 and 2005, amounting to Sh6 million.

LSK is supposed to pay to the regional law society $25 for every lawyer it registers in a year.

Kenya’s Law Society Chairman Okong’o Omogeni said during an exclusive interview with Capital News that none of the alleged irregularities occurred during his tenure and wants previous office holders to be accountable.

Mr Omogeni told Capital News that he wants the LSK and EALS leaders to go through the accounts in question to establish the number of lawyers registered during that period, whether there is indeed any unpaid claim and who is answerable for it.

Former LSK Chairman and outgoing EALS President Tom Ojienda however tried to downplay the issue, saying the dispute had been resolved. He attributed it to a question of bad accounting.

“The alleged sums that the Law Society owes were actually paid. What is of concern is that there hasn’t been a corresponding reflection in the (accounting) books,” Mr Ojienda said.

When asked why the payments were not accounted for, Ojienda replied: “We didn’t have an organised secretariat then. When we came in we decided to say that since we had X amount of members, you (LSK) owed us this amount.”

The EALS is considered the premier regional Bar Association in East Africa, and says on its website that it is ‘a dual membership organisation, bringing together 7,000-plus individual lawyer-members from the region as well as the six national Bar Associations.’

These are the Law Society of Kenya, Tanganyika Law Society, Uganda Law Society Zanzibar Law Society, Kigali Bar Association and Burundi Bar Association.

Mr Ojienda whose two-year term at the EALS lapsed in December is handing over the baton to elected President Allan Shinobi of Uganda.

Mr Shinobi was elected at an Annual General Meeting last year. The EALS presidency is rotational between member countries.


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