A battle of recognition between the Law Society of Kenya (LSK) and Chama Cha Mawakili (CCM) is becoming more serious after a court ruled that the government’s decision to deregister the latter over the conflict on their names was illegal.
Justice Weldon Korir ruled that the decision by the Registrar of Companies to instruct CCM to change its name, and subsequent deregistration was a violation of the group’s right to fair administrative action.
Justice Korir in his declaration accused the registrar of failing to give CCM an opportunity to be heard before deregistration.
In a letter dated January 9, 2019, the registrar gave CCM instructions to change its name within 14 days or be deregistered since the name was similar to that of LSK.
The registrar realized he made a legal error in his decision and attempted to rectify it by convening meetings between battling parties on January 25 and February 4 in order to find an amicable solution.
The registrar rendered a final decision in favour of LSK on September 23 but Justice Korir maintained that the registrar’s attempt to settle the dispute and the subsequent ruling while he had already made a decision to deregister CCM meant nothing.
“The right to be heard being a constitutional requirement does not give the decision-maker the discretion to decide whether or not to hear the person to be affected by the decision,” Justice Korir said.
CCM moved to court arguing that the registrar violated Section 58 of the Companies Act, 2015 which forms the basis of the dispute between the groups. “Chama Cha Mawakili” is a Swahili variant and a synonym of “Law Society of Kenya”.
CCM Director Georgiadis Majimbo described the registrar’s decion as unreasonable and irrational as he did not take into account the factors in the legal status of CCM and LSK which are a company limited y guarantee and a statutory body respecctively.
Mr Majimbo also said that there was also a total refusal to accept five other names.
The Assistant Registrar of Companies Joyce Koech however said LSK had written to them on January 8, 2019 and expressed their objection to the registration of CCM because the two names are strikingly similar.