A judge has refused to recuse himself from a land dispute in court which Edermann Property Limited is pitted against alcohol company London Distillers Kenya (LDK) and the State’s national environment tribunal.
Justice Charles Mbogo denied the property developer’s plea to disqualify himself from the dispute over contamination near a multi-billion shilling housing project in Athi River, Machakos County.
To back up his allegation, the MD stated that a conservatory order granted against the alcohol distiller in January of last year was overturned by the judge due to claimed pollution and industrial emissions.
Mr Zeyun also expressed concern after overhearing the alcohol distiller’s counsel indicate that he would go to Justice Oscar Angote (of ELC Machakos) and urge him to have a word with the Makueni court, purportedly to ensure that the conservatory orders were overturned.
However, in dismissing the motion, Justice Mbogo ruled that the property business had failed to show any likelihood of prejudice, predilection, or prejudgment.
“This court strongly denounces the Erdemann’s veiled intimidation in the form of unsubstantiated allegations which do no more than undermine the public confidence in this court but more importantly, undermine judicial independence. Erdemann did not provide substance to the said telephone conversation and it is thus suspicious how this court should find itself caught in the muddle that has been wildly put forward. I shall say no more of this,” said the judge, adding that his court was not part of the alleged telephone conversations involving lawyer for London Distillers.
The primary issue in the court case is the willful pollution caused by the release of untreated effluents from the London Distillers facility into the surrounding environment, as well as the National Environment Management Authority’s subsequent inactivity (Nema).
Erdemann MD had also requested the court to dismiss the case since he had subsequently submitted a petition with the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) on June 29, 2020, demanding inquiries into the judge’s actions.
He wants an investigation into whether there was a collaboration in violation of the Judicial Code of Conduct and Ethics’ basic principles of propriety and professionalism.
But Justice Mbogo said it is questionable that he should recuse himself because of a complaint that is pending hearing before the JSC.
Last year, the multi-billion real estate company Erdermann Properties Limited let go of over 2200 workers following a protracted court row with a liquor company over accusations of air pollution.
In a statement issued by the company on Thursday, March 12, it announced that they would have to lay off some workers owing to the temporary suspension of their services following a court order.
The company announced that as of March 6, 2020, it had stopped the proposed construction of the proposed Great Wall Gardens (GWG 3) project following a temporary suspension of their conservatory and interim orders by the Environment and land Court in Makueni.
For this reason, the company announced that it had to sever ties with some of the employees, suppliers of local materials, and contractors, alongside disappointing the buyers who had expressed interest in the properties.