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Legal market overview
Kenya is the largest economy in East Africa and enjoys status as the financial hub of the region, although there is concern that political uncertainty in the run-up to the 2013 general election may stifle investment. Meanwhile, it is thought that the debt crisis in Europe could inhibit tourism and reduce demand for exports from the world’s largest grower of black tea.
In 2012, major oil and gas deposits were discovered in northern Kenya and offshore, which led to an increase in project mandates, but the work of the Kenyan Privatisation Commission has ground to a halt as the government has refocused on constitutional issues.
The progress of legislation, which accompanied the 2010 constitution, remains widely criticised and continues to provide a strong flow of instructions for law firms. The Competition Act is still under scrutiny, and the new land laws, which came into effect in May 2012, have also been condemned as poorly implemented. Similarly, PPP legislation remains unclear, but lawyers predict an uptick in projects work when this is clarified.
Another area sparking debate is the Judges and Magistrates Vetting Board, which is reviewing suitability for office and causing a dramatic overhaul of the Kenyan courts. Most notably, in July 2012, 11 new judges formed the Employment and Labour Relations Court, following accusations of corruption in what was formerly known as the Industrial Court. Under the new name, it handles all types of employment disputes, whereas before, all labour cases, except trade union matters, were referred to the High Court.