Taxpayers will fork out Sh220 million to pay lawyer Tom Ojienda after a judge threw out an application by the National Land Commission seeking to set aside a taxed bill of costs.
The lawyer acted for the commission in a legal tussle with the Lands ministry where it sought an advisory opinion in the Supreme Court on who had the mandate to issue title deeds. The court ruled the issuance was a preserve of the Lands ministry.
Prof Ojienda, the Law Society of Kenya representative to the Judicial Service Commission, moved to court last year to enforce the payment of Sh220 million entered in his favour by the taxing master.
While awarding the lump sum, Justice Daniel Ogembo, took issue with the commission, saying court records had showed it was not interested in opposing the lawyer’s bill of costs.
The judges said the certificate of costs was issued by the taxing master on September 20, 2016 but it was not until December 8, 2016 when the commission lodged its application seeking to set aside the amount awarded to the lawyer.
He noted the commission failed to write to the taxing master within 14 days objecting to the costs and instead choose to pursue the objection midway through the proceedings.
“There is nothing on record to show the commission ever wrote to the taxing master within 14 days seeking reasons for the determination on the items objected to. In effect, there has been no attempt on the part of the commission to commence the objections as required in law,” said the judge.
The judge further argued that the chronology of events showed clearly the commission was disinterested in the whole taxation process, noting that despite being given at least two opportunities to lodge its objections, none was filed.
“To me, this shows only one fact that the commission did not intend to participate in the proceedings before the taxing master from the onset. Is this, therefore, a party to whose benefit time can be enlarged? I am not persuaded to believe so,” observed Justice Ogembo.
He said the commission’s application to set aside the decision of the taxing master was only meant to delay the case and deny Prof Ojienda the enjoyment of the fruits of his labour.
The judge, therefore, dismissed the application and ordered the commission to pay the lawyer Sh220 million including interest and costs of his litigation.