2 LAW FIRMS DISPUTE SH 1.3BILLION TELKOM PAYOUT.

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oluochLawyer Celestine Opiyo with lawyer Anthony Oluoch leaving Milimani Law Courts on On March 26.2016.

BUY SAM ALFAN.

TWO law firms which have been sued by former Telkom Kenya employees over the disbursement of their Sh1.3billion pay-off for their retirement benefits have challenged the High Court’s jurisdiction to adjudicate the dispute.

They argue that the judicial review application by the aggrieved 997 retirees deserves to be handled by the Employment and Labour Relations Court and have accused the complainants of non-disclosure of crucial information regarding the finances.

The law firms are seeking to set aside the conservatory orders issued by Commercial Court Judge Eric Ogola on April 21 freezing the client bank accounts held by Anthony Oluoch and Company Advocates and Sylvia Malemba Kitonga and Company Advocates pending the determination of the case.

“The plaintiffs have not come to this court with clean hands and they cannot be benefeciaries to any equitable orders being sought” Oluoch submitted.

High Court Judge Grace Nzioka suspended the hearing of all applications pending before her and directed that the issue of the court’s power to hear and determine the case will have to be resolved first. The former employees are demanding an account of disbursement of part of the Sh1.3billion compensation.

The former workers and the former State Corporation opted for an out-of-court settlement on December 15, last year to conclude their ten-year legal battle that was heard in the Industrial Court, the High Court and the Court of Appeal.

The retirees, who were shown the door in two phases in 2006, eventually triumphed three years ago when Court of Appeal Judges Paul Kihara Kariuki, Kathurima M’Inoti and Jamila Mohamed ruled that Telkom Kenya had acted in a discriminatory manner when it sent the workers home. The court awarded them Sh3.2billion compensation that was to attract 14 per cent interest.

Initially, the former workers had expected to pocket between Sh900,000 and Sh3.5million each in severance pay , a Golden Handshake and transport allowance. Their employer had undertaken to pay the money in three installments of Sh460million each.

 

They had successfully petitioned the High Court to freeze the joint client bank account held by the two law firms pending the hearing of their grievances regarding the disbursement of the money. They claimed to have been sidelined in the manner in which the payment process was conducted.

The former workers have demanded that the Telkom Kenya management should be compelled to show how much money has already been released to the joint account held by the two law firms. Similarly, they are seeking orders to direct the manager of the Upper Hill branch of the National Bank to show how much money was withdrawn.

They said there was grave danger that they were likely to lose their hard-won compensation since there were many unexplained discrepancies in the manner in which some beneficiaries were omitted from the list.

On March 26.2016,over 400 ex-employees of Telkom Kenya moved to court seeking a joint bank account belonging to IEBC Commissioner Thomas Letangule and a city lawyer frozen.

They accuse the two of swindling them Sh 1.3 billion as retirement payoff.

The claimants wanted the accounts of Mr Letangule and lawyer Anthony Oluoch frozen until they give a detailed account on how they have disbursed the money to the former employees.

The money was awarded to the retirees following an out of court settlement which the advocates negotiated on their behalf in October 2014.

The State Corporation agreed to settle the amount following a legal dispute with the former employees that have been in court for nearly ten years.

The former workers were retrenched in 2006 but Telkom was found to have acted discriminatorily by the Court of Appeal.

In urgent pleadings lodged before the Labor Relations Court, claimants say there has been great disparities in monies they have since received.

Letangule and Aluoch, the claimants allege have failed to disclose the formal used in disbursing the money.

According to the applicants, efforts to reach the IEBC commissioner to seek answers on the criteria used to pay them have all failed as he has refused to address them.

Consequently, they want the two advocates summoned to give an account of how much money was released to them by Telkom.

Telkom the say should be summoned to give an account of the amount they released to their account held at National Bank of Kenya (NBK).

They are further accused of making colossal deductions from the applicants’ lump sum payments as legal fees without their consent.

According to them, the deductions are illegal as they were paid by the parastatal.

The court fixed November 15, 2016 for hearing the application on whether it has the jurisdiction to hear the matter or not.

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