Lawyer’s fee stalls sharing of Sh5bn estate

A lawyer’s demand for Sh455 million in legal fees has hampered inheritance by the children of a deceased coffee farmer’s vast empire estimated to be worth Sh5.1 billion.

Gatheru Gathemia has moved to court seeking to stop the children of deceased coffee farmers Samuel Gitau Munene and Winnie Wanjiru from transferring any of their assets in the estate in a bid to secure the disputed fee.

Mr Gathemia says the fees arose from succession cases in which he represented Jane and Joan Munene against their brothers, who had taken a majority stake in the estate.

The lawyer argues that his legal fees were to be pegged on the total value of the estate, which stands at Sh5.1 billion today.

Jane and Joan, who have a combined 40 per cent stake in the estate, however say Mr Gathemia’s fees cannot be pegged on their siblings’ inheritance as he did not represent them in the suit.

The children inherited their parents’ coffee estate and several tracts of land.