NAIROBI, Kenya, March 26 – The Law Society of Kenya (LSK) has commenced disciplinary action against lawyers who disrupted last Saturday’s Annual General Meeting at a Nairobi hotel.
Speaking during a special council meeting on Wednesday, LSK President Eric Mutua said the lawyers who were captured on camera shall be served with letters to show cause why action should not be taken against them.
“We highly regret that a section of members became rowdy and disrupted the AGM. This is not how members of the legal profession should behave. The Council of LSK has viewed video footage of the AGM and lawyers who participated in the misconduct and disciplinary action is on course,” he stated.
During the meeting, it was also resolved that a consultative meeting will be held within 21 days to address all issues surrounding the construction of the Sh1.2 billion LSK International Arbitration Centre in Nairobi’s South C suburb.
Mutua said that the consultative meeting shall involve the Council of the LSK, Senior Counsel, representatives from LSK branches and petitioners in cases filed against the project.
The LSK President said that the society is experiencing a changing demography with currently 12,024 members and events that unfolded at the AGM are among the challenges that must be addressed.
In a rejoinder however, members of the Okoa LSK initiative who are accused of leading the disruption insist that they are not responsible for the chaotic scenes.
In a statement, they say that a review of the video footage of the proceedings ascertained that Mutua failed to adhere to the regulations and attempted to ram down the agenda without putting issues to vote.
“Firstly, we reject the false premise that we the members became rowdy or that the AGM of 21st March 2015 was disrupted as a result. The meeting proceeded in accordance with the law following the exit of the council and chairman under the chairmanship of Assa Nyakundi and valid resolutions binding on the society passed,” the statement said.
“We take great exception and condemn in the strongest terms possible the preposterous scandalous and utterly ridiculous allegation that the ‘problems’ the society faces is due to ‘changing demographics’. This is a slur and slight on the character and reputation of the younger advocates who have joined the society in the recent past. It is a desperate and shameful attempt by council to balkanize the society on the basis of age,” it went on to state.
The statement further indicated that the members of the Okoa LSK initiative will not participate in any act, including the proposed consultative meeting that would undermine, negate and fly in the face of the supremacy of the membership at the general meeting as prescribed under Section 16 of the Law Society of Kenya Act.
“The council has shown contempt and disrespect to the supreme authority of the LSK. As a result, we have resolved to serve the LSK Secretariat, in the next 7 days, with a requisition for a Special General Meeting for conclusion of agenda left pending after the adjournment by Assa Nyakundi,” it stated.
The centre of the chaos was a project for the construction of the arbitration centre, where members are supposed to contribute a mandatory fee ranging from Sh39,000 to Sh50,000 towards the project.
The lawyers were accusing their leadership of failure to reveal the whole financial details of the project and only did that after a court order raising questions of accountability and transparency.
Lawyer Edwin Sifuna who proposed a motion to have the project abandoned and five firms invited to conduct a forensic audit into the affairs of the council and the secretariat for the last four years told journalists that they only want accountability.
An assessment by the National Environment Management Authority internal quantity surveyor, he said, indicated the four storey building will cost Sh283 million while the council had submitted an approximate cost of Sh608 million.
He pointed out that there have been conflicting figures and now they have the current figures of Sh1.2 billion.