Kenyan lawyers attempt to block foreign practitioners

Kenya's legal profession authorities are seeking to block legislation enabling foreign lawyers and judges to work in the country.

Nairobi: door shut to overseas firms?

Proposed amendments to the Vetting of Judges and Magistrates Act and Advocates Act would also transform the advocates’ disciplinary committee into a tribunal, as well as giving the judiciary powers to regulate the remuneration of in-house lawyers.
According to the Nairobi Star, the Law Society of Kenya argues that these changes – which came into effect a fortnight ago -- will have a radically detrimental effect to the local legal profession, and is seeking to have them reversed. It is also arguing that they were brought in without sufficient public consultation.

Abuse of power

The society maintains that the allowing foreign lawyers and judges into the country will reduce opportunities for Kenyan lawyers, with a particular concern that those working in-house at multinational companies will be replaced by foreign lawyers.
The society described the decision to allow non-Kenyans to work in Kenya’s legal services without a reciprocal agreement for local lawyers to move abroad as ‘an abuse of legislative power vested on parliament’.
The society is also aiming to reverse other changes brought about by the amendment, arguing that the government should not regulate the legal profession and issues of professional conduct by instigating a court-like tribunal. Instead lawyers should be able to self-regulate according to their own disciplinary committee.

Judicial row

The row coincides with the Law Society of Kenya being embroiled in a controversy around prospective Judicial Service Commissioner Ahmednasir Abdullahi, who has written to the authorities accusing a rival law firm of alleging he is not a qualified lawyer.
According to website All Africa, Mr Abdullahi accused a fellow lawyer of attempting to derail his appointment to the commission following a dispute between the lawyers. The rival firm denies the allegations.

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