The Kenya bureau of Standards has been ordered to pay two law firms a total of Sh144 million for representing the State agency in a case against a Dubai-based company.
High Court judge Josephine Mong’are said the firms of Rachier & Amolo Advocates and Senior Counsel Paul Muite are entitled to payment of Sh72 million each for representing Kebs in a matter against Geo Chem Middle East.
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The law firms held brief for Kebs against the Dubai-based company for breach of contract and the matter ended up at the Supreme Court.
Apart from the main case, the lawyers defended Kebs in several applications as the Dubai-based firm sought to freeze its accounts.
Deputy registrar of the High Court had directed Kebs to pay all the lawyers a total of Sh5.8 million but they challenged the decision as they sought more money.
“Subsequently, the decision of the taxing master issued on 20th February 2023 is vacated and set aside,” the judge said.
The agency signed a contract with the company for the inspection of imported petroleum products on June 5, 2009, ending the previous practice of letting oil marketers vouch for the quality of their products through self-regulation.
The contract was suspended in March 2010 after petroleum dealers raised pump prices by Sh3 per litre to cover the inspection fee which fell on them.
The move saw Geo-Chem, which was not compensated for the investment it made in fulfilling the contract, take the dispute to arbitration and win the case.
Kebs then filed its objection at the High Court in a long-running legal battle that was settled by the Supreme Court on December 18 2020, in favour of the Dubai-based firm.
The lawyers then raised a bill of Sh105 million and proceeded to tax the amount in November last year but Kebs challenged the move arguing that they had agreed on a retainer fee.
The agency told the court that it had paid the lawyers Sh48 million called party and party costs.
After hearing the parties, the taxing master directed Rachier & Amolo Advocates to be paid Sh3 million, while Mr Muite was to get Sh2 million plus VAT of Sh800,000.
The lawyers rejected the amount saying their representation ensured Kebs remained operational as orders sought by the Dubai firm would have paralysed its operations locally and internationally.
Read: Fund Kebs to ensure safety of products
The judge said the client was bound by the terms of the retainer’s confidentiality agreement to pay each of the two advocates their full fees as per the Advocates Remuneration order.