At A Glance…
The County Attorney shall be the principal legal adviser to the county executive committee and shall attend the meetings of the county executive committee as an ex officio member.
By Obegi Malack
County governments will now recruit County Attorneys after President Uhuru Kenyatta approved the Office of the County Attorney Bill, 2018.
The new law will create the office of County Attorney to deal with legal issues affecting the county.
The office bearer will be the principal legal advisor of the County Executive Committee and will also ensure county governments avoid legal landmines they have grappled with in the past.
The office will be established by the County Attorney Public Service, which is mandated to ensure the institution is fully functional.
The office shall consist of the County Attorney, the County Solicitor and other county legal counsel officers the County Attorney may, in consultation with the county public service board consider necessary.
The County Attorney shall be appointed by the Governor subject to the approval of the County Assembly after going through a competitive process.
The office bearer should have at least seven years experience as an advocate of the High Court of Kenya and also meet requirements of chapter 19 of the constitution.
The positions of County Solicitor and County Legal Counsels shall be recruited by the County Public Service Board.
The Governor may, with the approval of the County Assembly remove the County Attorney from office for serious violation of the Constitution or any other gross misconduct.
Other reasons for removal will relate to performance of functions of the office or otherwise, physical or mental incapacity to perform the functions of the office, incompetence or bankruptcy.
As the the principal legal adviser to the county executive committee, the County Attorney shall attend the meetings of the county executive committee as an ex officio member.
They will represent the county executive in court or in any other legal proceedings to which the county executive is a party other than criminal proceedings.
They shall also advise departments in the county executive on legislative and other legal matters, negotiate, draft, vet and interpret documents and agreements for and on behalf of the county executive and its agencies.
They will be responsible for revision of county laws, liaise with the office of the Attorney-General when need arises and perform functions necessary for effective discharge of duties and exercise of the powers of the office
The office holder shall enjoy the status and rank of a member of the county executive committee but together with the County Solicitor, they will not engage in private practice.
“County Legal Counsel shall not engage in any other gainful job and are prohibited because employment may result in a conflict of interest,” says the new law.
Kajiado Governor Joseph ole Lenku personal assistant Daniel Kanchori said the law was long overdue.
Kanchori who is also an advocate said the office will make all departments run smoothly since it will also receive its own budget allocation.
“There has been a gap but the governor will now appoint the officers for smooth running of the county government,” he said.
County governments have been employing legal officers to serve as the County Secretary.
Wilfred Maranga of Wann Law Advocates said the signing of the law will see the county government plan on its spending better.
“The County Attorney will approve requests by departments or any County public entity to engage the services of a legal consultant,” said Maranga.