Lawyers win big as court halts law on clients’ cash

Thursday, January 13th, 2022 05:00 | By
Justice Makau. Photo/PD/CHARLES MATHAI

Lawyers breathed a sigh of relief yesterday after the High Court suspended the implementation of section 2 (c)(i) and section 14 (b) of the Proceeds of Crime and Anti-Money Laundering (Amendment) Act, 2021, which requires them to report their client’s financial transactions.

Justice James Makau issued temporary order pending the hearing of a suit filed by lawyer Mwaura Kabata against the State challenging the proposed law

The Proceeds of Crime and Anti-Money Laundering (Amendment) Bill, 2021, which was assented to by the President on January 3 requires lawyers to keep cash records of transactions in excess of Sh1 million.

 “It has been demonstrated that the petitioner has prima facie case with likelihood of success.

It has also been demonstrated that the interim orders if not granted the advocates and their staff who are said to be targeted by the referred section shall be prejudiced,” ruled the judge.

The Financial Reporting Centre and Attorney General had been named as respondents in the suit.

Justice Makau allowed Law Society of Kenya, Nairobi branch and the National Assembly to be enjoined in the case.

He directed them to file their responses within 14 days and the matter to be mentioned on January 22 to confirm compliance and other directions. 

LSK, through lawyer Peter Wanyama, backed the petition, arguing that independence of the bar is tied to independence of the Judiciary.

“Whereas judges and advocates are not above the law, the legal system protects the bar and the Judiciary,” argued Wanyama.

Wanyama stated that Article 50 states that an accused person shall not give self-incriminating evidence, yet in the amended section it wants an advocate for the accused to report and give evidence of the suspect to the government.

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