Lawyers from Rwanda and Burundi blocked from working in Kenya

Tit for Tat is a fair game.

FILE PHOTO: Kenyan lawyer and Law Society of Kenya's CEO Mercy Wambua holds a placard in front of the Supreme Court in Nairobi, on February 15, 2018 during a demonstration against impunity and disobedience of court orders. (YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP via Getty Images)

Lawyers from Rwanda and Burundi will no longer be able to practice in Kenya until Kenyan advocates are allowed to work in the respective countries.

Parliament through the Statute Law (Miscellaneous Amendment) Act, 2012, amended Section 12 and 13 of the Advocates Act to include the two East African countries but in 2019, the Court of Appeal struck down the changes.

The Law Society of Kenya (LSK) then sued the Attorney General arguing the amendment to section 12 to open up trade in legal services for non-Kenyans without reciprocal access for Kenyan advocates was a violation of Parliament’s legislative powers.

13 Kenyan lawyers, who are currently practising advocates of the Rwanda Bar Association (RBA), have petitioned the Parliament to fast track the inclusion of Rwanda and Burundi in the Advocates Act.

According to them, the inclusion would enable the Chief Justice to swear and enrol practitioners from the two countries to practice in Kenya.

Already, lawyers from Tanzania and Uganda are currently allowed to practice law in Kenya in accordance to provisions of the Advocates Act.

The National Assembly’s Justice and Legal Affairs committee wants all East African member States to address the matter before Kenya can open trade in legal services to Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan.

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