The attention of the Consumers Federation of Kenya (Cofek) is drawn to the Law Society of Kenya (LSK) uncalled for complaint against activist Mr Okiya Omtatah reportedly taking lawyers’ jobs through multiple filing of public interest litigations.
LSK Chairman Mr Allen Gichuhi, amongst other grounds, alleges that Mr Omtatah is getting a lot of leeway in the courts and that he relies on information provided by disgruntled elements in a corporation or in government using confidential and privilege information.
Our response is that, first, Articles 22 and 258 of the constitution grants “every person” the right to move to Court without necessarily being represented.
Second, there is no basis for LSK to claim that lawyers have the "greatest mandate" to initiate these public interest litigation. Even if that were to be the case, it does not exempt any other person from the right to self-representation.
Third, LSK ought to be made aware that they cannot use Statutory Instruments Act to amend the provisions of the constitution. As a matter of fact, unless a referendum is called to amend the affected articles, LSK must learn to live with reality that there are many other Omtatahs coming to Court soon.
Fourth, the fundamental question LSK ought to ask itself is why are litigants by-passing them? They are expensive and corruptible. Mr Omtatah wins many orders because he doesn’t he cannot easily be compromised.
Fifth, the LSK further knows that it is living precariously on the illegal Section 34 of the Advocates Act purports to that certain transactions for instance land conveyance must be undertaken by lawyers.
The same goes for what lawyers call “professional undertaking” a term used to defy their own clients on certain matters. We must reform the legal sector. Mega corruption begins and ends with lawyers in government and private practice. Yet they are never punished.
Finally, lawyers are professionals who work for gain. Their primary interest is protectionism of their commercial interest. They have no legitimacy to purport to represent public interest than the public could directly protect themselves.
Consumers Federation of Kenya (Cofek), July 3, 2018