Sisters fight Sh500m lawyer fees

By: PAUL OGEMBA

Two sisters are fighting off a Sh500 million legal fees demand from a lawyer who represented them in a succession case for their late parents’ multi-billion shillings estate.

According to Ms Jane Gathoni Munene and Ms Joan Mugure Munene, the demands by lawyer Gatheru Gathemia are ridiculous, based on lies, an abuse of his position and meant to take advantage of them. The estate is valued at Sh5 billion.

“We terminated his services after realising that he was making unauthorised deductions. It is therefore an abuse of the court process for him to claim we owe him when he has not explained the total amount he took without our knowledge,” said Ms Gathoni.

The sisters, through Iseme Kamau & Maema Advocates argue that Mr Gathemia intended to scare them with his demand for Sh500 million yet the lawyer diverted funds from the estate’s accounts.

They insist that when Mr Gathemia took up the case, he agreed to charge his fees based on the advocates remuneration order and asked why he later changed.

The sisters said they had already paid Mr Gathemia Sh34 million for services rendered and that his demand for additional pay was based on lies.

They further accused him of illegally deducting and retaining funds meant for them without their knowledge.

Mr Gathemia has sued the two sisters for allegedly failing to pay him legal fees in the disputes they had with their brothers over the management of their parents Samuel Gitau Munene and Winnie Wanjiru Munene’s estate. He said he acted for the sisters in five cases since 2011 but they withdrew his services without any justification.

“My legal fees should be paid based on the fact that I engaged in a complex case. Their refusal is also contrary to an agreement that the fees will be based on the estates’ worth which according to recent valuation is about Sh5.1 billion,” said Mr Gathemia.

He now claims 10 per cent value of the estate.

In addition to what the sisters paid him, Mr Gathemia wants an order for an additional Sh478 million for the succession case and a further Sh7 million negotiating fees. The case will be heard on September 16.