Khamala v Kassim & another (Environment & Land Case 487 of 2014)  KEELC 12819 (KLR) (30 September 2022) (Ruling)
Neutral citation:  KEELC 12819 (KLR)
Republic of Kenya
Environment & Land Case 487 of 2014
OA Angote, J
September 30, 2022
Charles Alenga Khamala
Moosa Abdul Qadir Kassim
Homesplus Realtors Limited
1.In the notice of motion dated April 7, 2022, the defendants/applicants have sought for the following orders:
2.The application is based on the grounds on the face of the motion and supported by the affidavit of the defendants’ advocate, Jared K. Bosire. In his affidavit, the defendants’ advocate deponed that the plaintiff obtained judgement on September 16, 2021 after the hearing which proceeded ex-parte for non-attendance on the part of the defendants and that the hearing date of May 25, 2021 was taken ex-parte without inviting the defendants.
3.It was deponed on behalf of the defendants that when the matter came up for hearing on October 12, 2020, it was not listed on the cause list; that the defendants were surprised to be served with a notice of entry of judgement on March 14, 2022 and that the service was improper, defective and concealed.
4.According to the defendants’ counsel, the prayers sought in the plaint are spent since the plaintiff moved out of the premises when he filed this suit; that the defendants will suffer great prejudice if the judgement remains and is executed; that the defendants will be condemned unheard should this application be dismissed and that the defendants are now exposed to massive loss and damages should this court fail to intervene.
5.The application is uncontested as the plaintiffs did not file a reply. No submissions were filed by either the plaintiff or the defendants/ applicants.
Analysis and Determination
6.Upon considering the motion and the affidavit in support thereof, the issues that arise for determination are as follows:b.Whether this court should grant an order to set aside the hearing and judgement delivered in this matter.
7.In the notice of motion, the defendants’ advocate has stated that the plaintiff obtained judgement on September 16, 2021 irregularly; that the hearing date of May 25, 2021 was taken ex-parte without inviting them and that the they were not served with the notice for hearing, or alternatively, that such service was improper, defective or concealed.
8.This suit was commenced by way of a plaint dated April 22, 2014 wherein the plaintiff averred that he entered into a tenancy agreement with the 2nd defendant, who postured that he managed the suit property on behalf of the 1st defendant, the owner of the suit property, apartment no. D2 of Moosa Qadir chambers, situate upon land parcel no. l.r. 209/1418/34 along chambers road (plot no. 34) Ngara Nairobi.
9.According to the plaintiff, he paid a deposit of Kshs 88,000 which constituted Kshs. 57,500 being two month’s rent, a deposit of Kshs. 2,500 towards electricity, Kshs. 3000 towards agreement charges and the monthly rent of Kshs. 27,500. The plaintiff averred that he then took possession of the suit property.
10.The plaintiff asserted that contrary to the representations made by the 2nd defendant, the 1st defendant landlord had not registered a power of attorney donating or delegating powers to the 2nd defendant to lease the unit and that the apartment had material defects.
11.The Plaintiff averred that he alerted the defendants of the structural defects but they failed to repair such defects; that thereafter, he issued a one month’s notice to terminate the tenancy contract and before expiry of the one month, the defendants threatened to evict him and to withhold his deposit of Kshs. 57,500. The plaintiff consequently moved this court and sought several reliefs including refund of the Kshs. 57,500/, special damages of Kshs. 3000, general damages for deception, misrepresentation and/or harassment and aggravated or exemplary damages.
12.The Defendants filed a Defence dated 22nd July 2019 in which they admitted that the 1st Defendant is the owner of the suit property; that the 2nd Defendant at all material times acted as the 1st Defendant’s agent or delegate and that before executing the agreement, the Plaintiff physically inspected the suit premises and confirmed that the same was in good and habitable condition.
13.Order 12 Rule 7 of the Civil Procedure Rules, 2010 gives this court discretion to set aside an ex-parte judgement as follows:
14.This court will be guided by the Court of Appeal of East Africa in Shah v Mbogo & Another  EA 116, where it stated that a court is to exercise the discretion to set aside ex parte Judgment to avoid hardship resulting from an accident, or excusable mistake or error and not to aid a person who deliberately seeks to obstruct justice.
15.This court is also guided by the recent case of Patriotic Guards Limited vs James Kipchirchir Sambu  eKLR, where the Court of Appeal stated the principles that are to guide a court in exercising its discretion:
16.The principles for setting aside a default judgment were spelt out in the case of Patel v East Africa Cargo Handling Services Ltd EA 75 thus;
17.A similar finding was made by the Court of Appeal in CMC Holdings Ltd v James Mumo Nzioki  eKLR, where it stated that a court ought to consider whether a litigant raises an excusable mistake and whether their defence raises a triable issue:
18.The Applicant in this matter has sought that this Court sets aside the judgement of the court delivered on 16th September 2021 on the grounds that it was not properly served with the hearing notice.
19.Where a party asserts that they were not duly served despite a process server swearing that they issued service, the Court of Appeal in Shadrack Arap Baiywo v Bodi Bach  eKLR stated that there is a presumption of service in favour of a process server. The Appellate Court quoted with approval Chitaley and Annaji Rao’s The Code of Civil Procedure Volume II page 1670, where the learned commentators state as follows:
20.The Appellate Court in the above case found that the Appellant had failed to discharge their burden of proof to disprove service. It stated:
21.The Applicants/ Defendants have asserted that they were not served notice of the hearing date of 25th May 2021. It is undisputed that this suit was scheduled for hearing on 12th October 2020, which date was set by the court and with the knowledge of both the parties to this suit. However, the court record indicates that only the Plaintiff’s Advocate, Mr. Shaban, was present in court on 12th October 2020. On that date, the court fixed the matter for hearing for 25th May 2021.
22.Evidence of the service of the hearing notice was tendered by Mr. Samson Eboso, a process server for the Respondents. Mr. Eboso swore an Affidavit of Service where he deponed that he served the hearing notice on a Mr. Kerongo, in the office of Kerongo, Bosire & Co. Advocates, the Applicants’ Advocates on 17th May 2021. Mr. Eboso attached the said hearing notice which bears the stamp of Kerongo Bosire & Company Advocates and is signed as received on 17th May 2021.
23.The stamped hearing notice and the Affidavit of service sworn by Mr. Eboso raises a presumption of service of the hearing notice. The burden of proof was thus upon the Defendants who questioned this return, to show that it was incorrect. While Counsel for the Defendants has denied that such service was effected, he failed to tender any evidence to upend this presumption of service. The Defendants’ advocate therefore failed to discharge his burden of proof. On this basis, this court should be guided by the evidence of the process server that the Defendants’ counsel was indeed served with a hearing notice.
24.In determining, whether the Defendants’ Defence raises a triable issue, this Court is guided by the aforementioned decisions of CMC Holdings Ltd v James Mumo Nzioki  eKLR and Patel v East Africa Cargo Handling Services Ltd  EA 75. It is undisputed that the Plaintiff moved out of the suit premises about the time that he filed this suit.
25.Consequently, several prayers he had made in his Plaint were overtaken by events. What remained for the court to consider were the prayers for refund of the deposit of Kshs. 57,500, special damages of Kshs. 3,000/, general damages for deception, misrepresentation and harassment, aggravated or exemplary damages and costs of the suit.
26.In their filed Defence, the Defendants conceded that indeed the Plaintiff deposited the sum of Kshs. 88,000 with them, which included a deposit of Kshs. 57,000/. The Defendants have indicated in their Defence that if there were any defects of the suit premises, which they deny there were any, such defects were caused by the Plaintiff or his agents. The Defendants however have failed to present any evidence to show the basis upon which they can hold on to the Plaintiff’s deposit. On this basis, the court finds that the Defence does not raise any triable issue.
27.For these reasons, the application dated 7th April 2022 is dismissed with no order as to costs.
DATED, SIGNED AND DELIVERED VIRTUALLY IN NAIROBI THIS 30TH DAY OF SEPTEMBER, 2022O. A. ANGOTEJUDGEIn the presence of;No appearance for the PlaintiffNo appearance for DefendantsCourt Assistant - June