Eric Mutua, OGW: The 46th LSK President and an Outstanding Litigator

Eric Mutua, OGW: The 46th LSK President and an Outstanding Litigator

Since the founding of LSK in 1949, Eric Kyalo Mutua is the only President of Law Society of Kenya to have served for 4 years having been elected for two consecutive terms of 2 years. Eric also remains the LSK President elected with the largest majority of votes (79%) in the last two decades. He served as the 46th Chairman/President of the Law Society of Kenya from 2012 to 2016 and oversaw the critical role LSK played in laying the ground for the peaceful first transition of Government under the Constitution of Kenya 2010. Eric is recognized as an excellent and formidable litigator and commercial lawyer and has successfully acted in dozens of precedent-setting and high value matters for individuals, corporates and public entities.

Eric Mutua is an advocate of the High Court of Kenya of more than 26 years good standing having been admitted to the bar in 1995. He holds Masters of Law (LLM) degree and Bachelor of Laws (LLB) degree both from the University of Nairobi and a Diploma in Law from the Kenya School of Law and is also a Certified Public Secretary, a Commissioner of Oaths, a Notary Public and an Arbitrator and a specialist in litigation and dispute resolution and has handled numerous complex commercial and constitutional cases in all levels Kenyan and regional courts and tribunals including High Court, Court of Appeal, Supreme Court of Kenya and East African Court of Justice (EACJ). He also represents claimants and respondents in complex and contested arbitration claims before domestic and international arbitration panels.

Eric has extensive experience advising and handling cases in international law, constitutional law and human rights, land and environmental law, real estate and construction disputes, commercial litigation, corporate governance including shareholder disputes, insurance, aviation law and insurance, sports dispute resolution, intellectual property in particular trademarks opposition and expungement proceedings, insolvency, debt collection and creditors' rights, banking and financial claims, communications, professional liability defense, regulatory compliance, employment and labour law, criminal and economic crimes law and international commercial arbitration.

Recent Key Cases Handled by Eric Mutua

One of the recent key case Eric has been involved in is representing Kenya Airport Authority (KAA) in the long-running landmark case of Mitu-Bell Welfare Society v Kenya Airports Authority & 2 others [2021] eKLR at the High Court, Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court. In this case which was filed in High Court in 2011 and went all the way to Supreme Court, Eric was defending KAA which was accused of forceful eviction without due notice and despite a Court order prohibiting evictions of more than 15,000 men, women and children from Mitumba village near Wilson Airport, through the demolition of their homes and schools, leaving them homeless.

The case featured prominently in the just concluded Chief Justice interviews because it is the standing authority on the place of structural interdicts as a form of relief in human rights litigation in Kenya. The Supreme Court upheld the applicability of structural interdicts by restating its holding in Communications Commission of Kenya & 4 others v Royal Media Services Limited & 7 others [2014] eKLR that Article 23(3) of the Constitution, in listing the appropriate reliefs a court may grant, uses the word 'including' implying that the reliefs listed therein are non-exhaustive. Therefore, a court can issue orders other than those listed as it deems fit, to be decided on a case-by-case basis.

Eric also successfully acted for a State Corporation in an Appeal to the High Court in a matter seeking to set aside a Ksh. 9.4 billion arbitration award given to a tenant on basis that it was unconstitutional and against public policy. High Court concurred with Eric that the impugned Arbitration award was contrary to public policy as the arbitrator (a former High Court Judge) had ignored, disregarded and/or misinterpreted the legal effect of a decision by the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) in a related matter where the Government of Kenya was a party.

Eric successfully represented the Plaintiff against a Major Insurance Company in a case that interrogated whether a clause in the insurance policy limiting liability to third parties to a certain amount is valid and enforceable in law under Insurance (Motor Vehicles Third Party Risks) Act, Cap. 405 of the Laws of Kenya. The clause currently limiting liability to Ksh. 3 Million did not exist at the time. The Court found that such clause was invalid, void and unenforceable and the insurer was bound to pay the third parties the amount of compensation awarded by Court.

He also acted for a claimant in an aviation insurance arbitration matter against four (4) major insurance companies who had insured his registered aircraft which was involved in an accident and was extensively damaged. The dispute involved the applicability of the "component parts clause" of the aviation insurance policy and whether the claimant incurred loss and damage payable under the insurance policy. Eric convinced the arbitration tribunal to find in favour of his client that the component parts clause was not applicable in the instant case and that the claimant incurred loss and damages covered and was entitled to compensation under the insurance policy.  

Barely 5 years after admission, Eric hit the headlines representing Eric Keter, an international athlete, at the Court of Appeal following the decision of the Kenya Amateur Athletics Associations to exclude him from the national team selected to participate in Sydney Olympic Games of 2000 despite being the reigning national champion at the time.  The court found that the Defendants had discriminated the athlete and unfairly denied him the opportunity to to represent Kenya in the Olympics and issued a mandatory injunction ordering the Defendants to enlist and register him as a qualifying member of the Kenyan team for the games.

Eric also famously acted for the Murang'a Senator Hon Irungu Kangata and Nominated MP Hon David Sankok and 5 other student leaders of the University of Nairobi in a case that challenged the decision to expel them with the Late Mutula Kilonzo Senior representing the University. The High Court cancelled the expulsion but ordered their disciplinary case to be remitted back to the University with Directions that Kangata, Sankok and the fellow students to be tried. Eric appealed the order for retrial of the students and the Court of Appeal stayed that portion of the order allowing Kangata and Sankok and the rest to continue with their studies.

National, Regional and the Continental Legal Perspective

Eric is a member of the International Bar Association, Commonwealth Law Association, Pan African Lawyers Association (PALU), East Africa Law Society, the Law Society of Kenya, Institute of Certified Secretaries (ICS) of Kenya and Chartered Institute of Arbitrators. Eric has been awarded many professional accolades including MEA Africa Legal 100 and is a recipient of the Order of Grand Warrior of Kenya (OGW) award by the President of Kenya.

In addition to serving as the 46th President of the Law Society of Kenya, Eric served as Council Member of LSK for more than a decade, Treasurer of East African Law Society, Vice-President Pan African Lawyers Union (PALU) and Board Member of Council of Legal Education. The broad exposure and experience serving lawyers as a top official in these National, Regional and the Continental Associations has given Eric unique understanding of legal business environment across Africa. He is also able to leverage the extensive contacts built over the years across the world to offer a wide range of legal services for business in the Kenyan, East African and African markets for the past 22 years.

Eric is the founding and Managing Partner of the E.K. Mutua & Company Advocates, a medium-size corporate and commercial law firm established with a reputation of excellent and innovative legal practice of more than 25 years. The firm is structured into four main practice groups, namely, Litigation and Dispute Resolution Practice, Commercial and Corporate Practice, Banking and Finance Practice and Real and Intellectual Property Practice. The firm's operations are based at its head office in the Flamingo Towers, 9th Floor, in Upperhill, the emerging Commercial and Financial Hub of Nairobi City.

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