The High Court has upheld a fee of Sh92 million to be paid to the law firm of Prof Tom Ojienda & Associates for defending the Mumias sugar company in an arbitration with Mumias Outgrowers Company Ltd.
Justice David Majanja dismissed the appeal, dealing the blow to the troubled miller, saying the deputy registrar who taxed the amount last year, rightly based the instruction fees on the documents filed before the arbitrator. The miller challenged the fee saying the law firm was claiming funds that had already been paid to another law firm, having taken the case from its previous lawyers.
“There was no dispute about the value of the subject matter and the course of proceedings before the arbitrator including the fact that the Advocates (Prof Ojienda) prepared and filed an Amended Counterclaim,” the Judge said.
Mumias is yet to start milling after it was put under receivership in September 2019.
The company, majority-owned by the government was placed under receivership by KCB and has been relying on ethanol production as a source of income.
Prof Ojienda represented the miller in a dispute pitting it and Mumias Outgrowers Ltd. Evidence presented in court was that the law firm of Prof Ojienda said the instruction fees was Sh642 million. And after hearing the case, the Deputy Registrar directed Mumias to pay the law firm Sh92 million.
Mumias disputed the amount saying the law firm was only entitled to payment for work it did. The company maintained that Prof Ojienda took over the arbitration from the firm of Hamilton Harrison & Mathews Advocates in late 2014.
The miller reckons that HHM had already exhausted instruction fees as they are the ones who filed pleadings hence Prof Ojienda could not earn instruction fees for a second time.
The company urged the court to quash the fee and remit the case before another deputy registrar for fresh assessment of fees to be paid to the law firm.
Prof Ojienda said their claim for instruction fees was subject to an amended counterclaim his law firm prepared in response to the claim of Sh7.6 billion raised by Mumias Outgrowers.
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