The Advocates Complaints Commission (ACC) has hosted legal aid clinics in 8 Counties to sensitize the general public on efficient mechanisms of addressing complaints touching on their advocates.
In partnership with the International Development Law Organization (IDLO), ACC has offered free legal camps in Tana River, Lamu, Mombasa, Kwale, Kilifi, Kakamega, Uasin Gishu and Kisumu Counties.
The Commission domiciled at the Office of the Attorney General and Department of Justice (OAG&DOJ) has also planned a similar exercise in other parts of the country beginning with Meru County in July.
Addressing participants during an outreach programme held in Kisumu County on Tuesday, ACC Secretary George Nyakundi stressed that Kenyans should embrace the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) approach in resolving disagreements to ensure the client and advocate relationship is maintained.
In the event that the parties fail to reach an accord, said Nyakundi, the matter should be escalated by lodging a complaint with the ACC which is mandated to receive complaints, investigate, prosecute and reconcile disputes.
The Commission has facilitated the refunding of over Sh.23 million to Kenyans whose money had been illegally withheld by their advocates.
“From July 1, 2022, to March 31, 2023, we have subjected about 223 complaints and have facilitated in retrieving over Sh.6 million clients’ money that had been retained by advocates for the same period,” he disclosed.
The advocates found culpable of breaching the professional ethics regulations risk being suspended from practice, struck off from the roll of advocates, fined or ordered to compensate the aggrieved client.
According to Nyakundi, the ACC suspended 5 advocates and 2 others were struck off the roll of advocates in the FY 2022/23. In 2023 alone, 3 rogue advocates have been suspended and 5 struck off the roll over gross professional misconduct.
Other offences that were registered at the Commission during the period under review included failure by the advocates to render professional services, failure to account to a client, neglecting clients’ cases, failure to keep a client informed, practicing without a certificate and issuing dishonored cheques.
The public sensitization programmes, added Nyakundi, have also enlightened Kenyans on ways of selecting and relating with an advocate.
“The Law Society of Kenya has a membership exceeding 19,000 registered advocates making it a daunting task for members of the public to identify a genuine advocate. Many clients have been conned by people masquerading as advocates who eventually fail to discharge their mandate causing distress and even financial loss to the victims,” he observed.
The Commission advises the public to download the complaints help form from its website (http://www.acc.go.ke/), to be filled and scanned to email@example.com attaching all relevant supporting evidence for processing.
Additionally, the help forms can be obtained at any of the OAG&DOJ Regional Offices or the County Commissioner’s offices across the country.
By Robert Ojwang’ and Chris Mahandara