The High Court has ordered the Federation of Kenya Employers (FKE) to stop purporting to offer legal services to the public following protests by the Law Society of Kenya (LSK).
Justice Hedwig Ong’udi said FKE cannot offer legal services and if Parliament intended for it to offer the same, nothing could have been easier than to stipulate it through an Act of Parliament.
The LSK moved to court in 2019 saying FKE had overstepped its mandate by claiming to offer limited legal services of representing its members’ rights. This is after placing an advertisement on a billboard and its website, saying it can offer legal services.
“It is discernible that legislature in enacting an Act of Parliament to regulate Advocates in Kenya, was desirous that legal services be regulated in line with the law,” the judge said.
FKE defended the move saying it is a registered trade union and wondered why LSK was questioning the extent of its role in representing its members under the Employment Act.
The federation said it has within its members Advocates of the High Court who get practicing certificates yearly concerning offering the cited legal services.
The executive director Jacqueline Mugo said the federation has a right to inform its members and other prospective members that it can provide them with legal services as envisaged by Article 22 and Article 258 of the Constitution.
Ms Mugo said the LSK was attempting to limit its right to reach out to its members and the general public, an act that amounts to interference with its freedom of association.
LSK said the information provided by the FKE on its website and the billboard, purporting to provide general legal services outside the ambit of the LSK as the regulator violates the right to consumer protection. The court was informed that the information that FKE is uniquely equipped to advise and represent its members on complex employment and labour issues at a reasonable fee, was illegal and should be pulled down.
According to LSK, the ad is unlawful and misleading to the general public and constitutes an infringement of LSK’s member’s rights and practice of an exclusive profession.
The judge agreed and issued a permanent injunction restraining the FKE from charging legal fees to members outside the membership fees.