High Court Suspends Presidential Directive Suspending Hire of External Advocates

Lawyer Ahmednassir Abdullahi, Sc who represented LSK in case to set aside the Presidential Directive Banning Hire of External Advocates

Lawyers and law firm works can heave a sigh of relief after the High Court suspended an order of the Executive Office of the President barring hiring of external advocates by state agencies and ministries except with the approval of the Attorney General.

The directive which required Cabinet Secretaries and accounting officers of Government agencies to first seek the approval of the AG Kihara Kariuki was set aside by Justice Mativo in a case filed by the Nairobi LSK Branch.

In a ruling, Justice John Mativo said he was satisfied that the case filed by the Nairobi branch of the Law Society of Kenya, was merited. LSK Nairobi Branch argued that no public participation was carried out before the directive whose effect was to terminate contracts of lawyers’ who were contracted was made.

The LSK through Senior Counsel Ahmednassir Abdullahi said the decision is contrary to the Fair Administrative Action Act and there is danger that the scheme can be used to give work by basing it on ulterior considerations besides legal competency, capacity and other values such as competitive and cost-effective considerations.

“Political and ethnic angles would be paramount in granting legal briefs and work i.e. list of tribes to be given work and a list of another not to be given work according to perceived tribal affiliation or opposition to the jubilee government would be the yardstick, in other words this would be a fascist exercise,” said Lawyer Ahmednassir.

The Presidential directive against lawyers is seen in many quarters as part of the battle between LSK and the State Law Office which saw the former threaten to strike the AG from the roll of Advocates. The legal industry has been hugely affected by Covid-19 pandemic and the directive risks crippling the operations of many law firms which depend on work from Government sector.

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