The Law Society of Kenya (LSK) has criticized President Uhuru Kenyatta’s for conferring 24 advocates with Senior Counsel rank despite a pending case in court.
In a statement on Monday evening, just hours after State House Spokesperson Kanze Dena made the list public, LSK termed the President’s move as “impunity”.
LSK President Nelson Havi said that the list was recalled in May this year after numerous complaints on the selection process.
“President Uhuru Kenyatta acted with impunity in conferring rank of Senior Counsel on the 24 Advocates. The dispute on their recommendation for conferment is still pending in Court.
Havi said the LSK will abide by “the outcome of the mediation that ensured therefrom whose report is expected soon.”
The 24 names had been nominated in August 2019 by three judges among them Supreme Court Judge Mohammed Ibrahim.
“We want to call upon the Chief Justice of the Republic of Kenya, not to include the 24 advocates in the roll of senior counsels because they are not senior counsels,” Havi stated.
Havi stated that that Attorney General Paul Kihara failed to sit through the meetings as required.
He also noted that two of LSK representatives who were supposed to be part of the proceedings of the conferment committee were also not involved in the process.
Former Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka and Mwai Kibaki regime Justice Minister Martha Karua were among lawyers conferred with the senior title rank by President Kenyatta.
Others on the list of senior lawyers and advocates of the High Court are Otiende Amollo, Fredrick Ngatia and former Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Philip Murgor.
Others are renowned arbitrator John Ohaga, family lawyer Judy Thongori, former chief executive of the defunct Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) Patricia Nyaundi and Kioko Kilukumi.
OM Parkash Nagpal, Fackson Walnaina Kagwe, Pravin Kumar Bowry, Charles Waweru Gatonye Rautta Athiambo, Mohammed Nyaoga, Albert Mumma, Beautah Alukhava Siganga, Kiragu Kimani, Taib Ali Taib Bajabir, Zehrabanu Janmohamed, Wilfred Nderitu, Dorcas Agik Odhong Oduor, Abdikadir Hussein Mohamed and John Mugwimi Chigiti were also on the list of coveted, exclusive club of senior lawyers in the country.
The Presidential Prerogative to confer the rank and dignity of Senior Counsel is set-out under the Advocates Act.
The rank of Senior Counsel is conferred in accordance with the recommendations of the Committee on Senior Counsel, to Advocates of the High Court of Kenya who have distinguished themselves by rendering exemplary service In the legal and public service arenas.
The head of state congratulated the new Senior Counsels saying the date for the conferment will be communicated.
“His Excellency conveys his warmest felicitations to the twenty-four Advocates whose contributions to law and development have secured their place at the apex of their profession and at the highest levels of the national conscience, ” the statement reads in part.
The last time the prestigious title, similar to the Queen’s Counsel in the British legal system, was conferred was in 2012.
Kenya currently has less than 30 Senior Counsels, excluding the new list.