What you need to know:
- The dispute started in 2009 when the former CJ filed a case seeking dissolution of his marriage to Prof Lax.
A matrimonial property case involving retired Chief Justice Willy Mutunga and his former wife Beverle Michaele Lax failed to proceed following a dispute over the representation of Prof Lax in court.
The confusion emerged after lawyer Lawrence Mbabu appeared on Thursday at the Family court in Nairobi saying he was representing the CJ’s ex-wife. Mr Mbabu had also filed a notice of his appointment.
However, Justice Mutunga’s lawyer, Chacha Odera, pointed out to the court that Prof Lax, an American scholar, was earlier being represented by the law firm of Wesonga, Mutembei & Kigen Advocates and there was no notice on change of advocates.
“Mr Mbabu can’t take instructions (from the client) when another advocate is on record. There is no notice of change of advocates, only an appointment notice,” Mr Odera told Justice Aggrey Muchelule.
He observed that since Wesonga, Mutembei & Kigen Advocates is the primary owner of the case, the law firm needed to be informed that someone else was now representing their client.
“This matter started in 2011 and has taken long. Let us do things right. She (Prof Lax) may say she never instructed him,” Mr Odera told the court, adding that Prof Lax was earlier being represented by lawyer Judy Thongori.
Mr Odera opposed a request by Mr Mbabu to have the case heard virtually and in camera, where only the lawyers concerned and the litigants would be allowed.
Dissolution of marriage
Mr Mbabu had premised his application on the personality of the retired Chief Justice and his former wife.
But in his opposition, lawyer Odera said the CJ had no issue with the case being treated like any other matter, meaning it can be heard openly.
“The camera thing has continuously led to delays and all sorts of allegations by the applicant (Prof Lax),” said Mr Odera.
Justice Muchelule directed Mr Mbabu to regularise the process of his appointment by filing a notice and serving the advocates on record for Prof Lax and Dr Mutunga. The matter will be mentioned on November 19 to confirm the position of Prof Lax’s representation.
The dispute started in 2009 when the former CJ filed a case seeking dissolution of his marriage to Prof Lax.
The High Court, in a judgment passed on July 26, 2012, ruled in favour of the retired judge and dissolved the marriage on the ground of cruelty on the part of Prof Lax.
However, the court ordered the CJ to pay his former wife Sh150,000 monthly maintenance for a period of six months.