Court dismisses Sh184m bill by law firm to Michuki’s daughter Yvonne Wanja

John Michuki

Former Internal Security Minister the late John Njoroge Michuki.

Photo credit: File | AFP

A city law firm has failed in its bid to reinstate a Sh184 million claim from the daughter of former Cabinet minister John Michuki for services offered in a multibillion-shilling inheritance dispute.

Agimba and Associates Advocates wanted the High Court to set aside the Deputy Registrar’s July 30, 2021 decision to strike out its bill of costs against Ms Yvonne Wanja Michuki.

The firm was seeking Sh184,080,301 for services rendered to Ms Michuki in a case involving the estate of her parents John Michuki and Josephine Watiri.

The estate, comprising several assets including Windsor Golf Hotel, is believed to be valued at Sh30 billion.

Ms Michuki opposed the bill. A magistrate’s court sustained her objection and the bill of costs was struck out through a July 30, 2021 ruling.

She argued that the bill of costs was an abuse of due process as there was an agreement between the advocate's company and her on legal fees before the case was filed.

“The bill is aimed at vexing Ms Michuki and the same calls for striking off,” the registrar heard.

In seeking the setting aside of the registrar’s decision, Mr Thomas Agimba complained that his company was unaware of the hearing date and the ruling until much later.

He added that his firm learnt about the ruling on September 8, 2021 through a letter from the registrar.

Mr Agimba urged the High Court to remit the bill of costs to another registrar for hearing and disposal.

But Justice Aggrey Muchelule declined the request, saying the company delayed in filing the reference application for setting aside the ruling.

When it did, he added, it was out of time and without permission from the court.

Justice Muchelule said according to the Advocates Remuneration Order, the reference application was to be filed within 14 days from the receipt of the registrar’s reasons on the bill.

But the reference application was filed close to two months after the ruling.

The judge said having received the letter from the registrar on September 8, 2021, the reference application to set aside the ruling ought to have been filed on September 22, 2021.

“That was late and there was no leave sought or granted. That being the case, I find the application incompetent and misconceived. It is struck out with costs,” Justice Muchelule said.

The law firm had also said that several letters to the deputy registrar inquiring about the bill of costs were not responded to.

Blaming the Covid-19 pandemic, which disrupted court process, Agimba and Associates said the response of the Judiciary was virtual hearing of cases.

The company told the court that the such hearings were not foolproof.

Ms Michuki engaged the law firm in 2018 to challenge the appointment of her siblings Ann Mutahi and Fred Chege as administrators of their parents’ estate.

A year later, she fell out with the advocates and switched to W G Wambugu and Company Advocates.

Michuki died of a heart attack on February 12, 2012. His wife died six months later.

Yvonne Michuki moved to court a few years later, seeking division of the Sh30 billion estate among the siblings equally.

She challenged the appointment of her two siblings as administrators of the estate in 2018, alleging mismanagement and embezzlement of cash.

She also demanded valuation of the estate and her “rightful” share.

Yvonne Michuki said she had been excluded from discussions on the estate with other beneficiaries.

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