Nelson Andayi Havi: A Great Legal Force Committed to Better LSK

Nelson Andayi Havi: A Great Legal Force Committed to Better LSK
The Current Law Society of Kenya President Nelson Havi

If to "nelson" is to aggressively tackle a wrestling opponent, then, no lawyer since Nelson Mandela can rival Nelson Havi in living the true meaning of the word. You can love or hate Havi, glorify or pillory Havi, acclaim or disclaim Havi, agree or disagree with Havi, the only thing you can't do, however much you try, is ignore Havi. Even the harshest of the critics of the 49th President of Law Society of Kenya readily admit that Havi is not just one of the best lawyers in Kenya today, he is a legal force of hurricane magnitude and, by all standards, a brave soul committed to restoring LSK to its former glory as the vanguard of rule of law in Kenya.

Havi: A Legal Force of Hurricane Magnitude

Havi is an advocate of the High Court of Kenya and a brilliant legal mind of 18 years good standing having signed the Roll of Advocates on 12th June 2003. After working for a few law firms, Havi established his eponymous medium-size law firm, Havi & Company Advocates, offering specialist legal services in the areas of public interest litigation, commercial litigation, arbitration, corporate finance advisory services, conveyancing, intellectual property rights and debt collection. Havi and his firm have handled numerous landmark and reported cases at the High Court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court.

One poignant example that go to prove Havi is a quintessential lawyer is the appeal case of Stanley Kang'ethe Kinyanjui vs. Tony Keter & 5 Others [2013] eKLR. Havi acted for the Appellant (Mr. Kinyanjui) in challenging a ruling and an order of the High Court of Kenya at Eldoret (J.R. Karanja, J.) made on 9th December 2011 by which the sale by public auction, transfer of and resultant title to L.R. 7741/149/3 Kitisiru Estate Nairobi, were set aside following an application dated 17th June 2011 by the 2nd respondent, Salim Suleiman (Suleiman). In urging the appeal, Havi attacked the competency of the application to set aside the sale that was before the learned judge. He criticized the learned judge for applying the overriding objective as a panacea for Suleiman's failure to properly invoke the court's jurisdiction and to comply with the rules of procedure. He also lambasted Suleiman for flouting procedural rules and wondered why he waited until year 2011 to challenge the sale that occurred in 2009.

The Court of Appeal (Waki, Mwera & Kiage JJA) agreed with Havi holding in favour of his client that: "While fully cognizant of the court's primary duty to do justice untrammeled by procedural technicalities, we are also aware that litigation is a game with clear rules of engagement. It is not open to parties to pursue and for courts to allow, a path of circumventing the rules that are imposed to aid in the attainment of justice…. It is unfortunate that the learned judge rather peremptorily dismissed the valid objections that had been raised against Suleiman's application. He ought not to have heard it. He certainly should not have granted it… This appeal succeeds. The ruling and order of the High Court made are 9th December 2011 is set aside in entirety. The notice of motion by Suleiman (the 2nd respondent) dated 17th June 2011 is dismissed with costs. The costs of this appeal shall be borne by the 2nd respondent."

In addition, Havi has acted in dozen other reported and precedent-setting matters including Miguna Miguna v. Permanent Secretary, Office of The Prime Minister & Another [2011] eKLR where he acted for Dr. Miguna suing then PM Raila and his office challenging his termination and Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta v. Nairobi Star Publications Limited [2013] eKLR where he successfully argued a preliminary against the petition by the current President of the Republic of Kenya seeking to gag The Star and convinced the High Court (Lenaola J, as he then was) to strike off the Petition. Havi also acted in Safaricom Limited v. Porting Access Kenya Limited & another [2011] eKLR, Tatu City Limited & 3 others v Stephen Jennings & 6 others [2017] eKLR, Real Deals Limited & 3 Others v Kenya National Highways Authority & Another & another [2015] eKLR, and Magnate Ventures Limited v Kenya Railways Golf Club; Backlite Limited (Interested Party) [2019] eKLR.

Havi: A Brave Soul Committed to Restoring LSK

In the Tatu City Limited case, the subject matter was the over Ksh. 50 Billion (USD 500 Million) tatu City development project and Havi was acting for the plaintiffs. Havi credits the case with opening his eyes to the reality of the endemic corruption and impunity at the Land's Office and Companies Registry at the time. His persistency and determination saw an overhaul of the operations in the Companies Registry and Land's Office including the transfer and suspension of many officers who had grounded the two institutions at the centre of conveyancing and commercial legal practice. Havi persisted in his quest for reforms in Land's Office and Companies Registry even after he was elected as Chairman of Nairobi LSK Branch and today his efforts have paid off because operations in both entities are undergoing digitization.

Over the years, Havi has proven himself to be a man who is never afraid to go to any length even if it means walking alone or earning the ire of high-placed enemies in his uncompromising defense of the rule of law and constitutionalism. Since taking oath of office as President of LSK, Havi continues to disappoint those who expected his zeal and vibrancy in the quest of making LSK relevant a defender of rule of law to wane with the passing of months. Now, more than a year since he was elected, Havi remains true to the undertaking he signed on 20th January 2020 committing to focus on serving LSK Members if elected the 49th President without fear or favour.

In living true to his calling to reform LSK, Havi has not hesitated in taking to task a section of the LSK Council, a group within the Senior Counsel Bar, the Attorney General and Solicitor General, the Judicial Service Commission, the Lady Chief Justice Designate and even the President. Remarkably, in all the instances when Havi has taken on a matter in public interest, the best his critics can do is question his methods or his approach. The motive of Havi to serve the society and the public good is never in question nor is the content of his arguments for the causes he embraces. Always over-prepared and articulate, in his time as LSK President, Havi has produced some of the best legal memoranda ever associated with the Law Society of Kenya in its 72 years' history.

Havi: What is the Next Chapter?

Nelson Havi is the proverbial man in "If", the Rudyard Kipling's famous poem. Havi is the man who keeps his head when all around him are losing theirs and blaming it on him. He talks daily with crowds of his followers on social media but still keeps his virtue. He walks with royalty by dint of his position but has never lost his common touch. Neither foes nor friends can hurt Havi, all count on him to do the right thing, but none is too close to compromise him. Truly, Havi is a man of all seasons, at home in his village backyard being installed as Omwimili wa Balagoli by the Maragoli Council of Elders as he is in Supreme Court arguing the next groundbreaking case, happy keeping the company of who is who in Kenya as he is hanging out with law students in one of the local varsities.

Little wonder the news that Havi has trained his eyes on being next Westlands MP next year has left many devastated aspiring hopefuls in its wake and stirred a frenzy of excitement among the area constituents who received his bid with open arms. "The Constitution enumerates functions and duties of a Member of National Assembly thus: making laws and protecting the Constitution; determining allocation of national revenue and oversight of its expenditure; reviewing conduct of State officers and oversight of State organs; and infrastructural development, wealth creation and poverty alleviation at the constituency level. I have accepted the request of the People of Westlands Constituency to serve them and the Nation in that capacity effective August, 2022 or earlier if Parliament is dissolved," Havi tweeted recently.

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