Solicitor-General Kennedy Ogeto told Members of Parliament that the office of the Attorney-General and Department of Administrative Justice had, at end of May 2019, analysed the ongoing cases and arbitrations with quantifiable claims as having a potential liability exposure to the Government of Sh809,938,412,173.
“Similarly, the ongoing exercise on pending legal bills has identified an outstanding pending legal bill totalling Sh168 billion as at February 17, 2020. The task force on pending legal bills found that Sh168 billion is outstanding. This is money arising out of court judgments that need to be paid by the Government to various claimants,” Mr Ogeto told the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee during the scrutiny of the AG’s budgetary allocations for the 2020/21 financial year.
Taxpayers risk losing Sh809 billion arising from ongoing legal suits and arbitrations that have been filed against the government. According to Ogeto, the potential liability of Sh809 billion includes awards for breach of contracts and government guarantees to State corporations that have defaulted in payment of respective loans.
“These are claims against the national government. The claims are for both local and international organisations with disputes with the government on agreements,” Mr Ogeto said.
Mr Ogeto did not provide a detailed breakdown of the amounts owed to individuals, local or international firms which have disputes with the government.
“I request a week to compile the list giving a detailed breakdown of the case, the amounts involved and the firms. I will provide details to this committee next week,” Mr Ogeto said.
Nominated MP Jennifer Shamallah sought to know details of the Sh809 billion bill and demanded a breakdown on what constitutes guarantees backed by the government including the State institutions involved.
Take for instance last year, Nairobi County Government was urged to develop a policy on outsourcing of legal services that will reduce spending on legal fees. Nominated MCA Silvia Museiya said that a lot of money is spent in the office of the County Attorney while the county has only eight lawyers.
“As we speak the legal department has only eight lawyers inclusive of the county attorney. The lawyers are supposed to provide legal advice and attend to legal matters across all the departments in the county which is a heavyweight on their shoulder. Aware that the County Assembly enacted the Nairobi City County Office of the County Attorney Act to be staffed with competent Legislative drafters, legal personnel and constitutional experts the department has remained to be understaffed for almost a year. The county legal department has failed to promote and guide the county resources in a manner to protect the property of residents of Nairobi County due to lack of professionalism.”
In April last year, High Court suspended an order issued by Justice John Mativo on February 25 issued directing the county government to pay Samson Masaba Munikah T/A Munikah & Advocates Sh847 million as legal fees.
“There be a stay of the execution of orders issued on February, 2019 for 10 days pending the hearing of the said notice of motion inter-parte on April 9, 2019,” Nyamweya ordered. The court also suspended payment of 9,756,512.96 arising from interest on the amount, which had accrued since July 29, 2016.