1.Equity Bank Limited was the 7th defendant in this suit and being aggrieved by the taxing master’s assessment of costs on its bill of costs dated December 15, 2020, it has approached this court vide a chamber summons application dated February 4, 2022 seeking for the following orders: -
2.The application is expressed to be brought under the provisions of rule 11(2) of the Advocates Remuneration Order and is supported by among other grounds that, the Taxing Master assessed instruction fees at Kshs 75,000/= and taxed of Kshs 675,000/= thereby failing to take into account the complexity of the matter and voluminous pages of the plaint, and the seriousness of the allegation made against the 7th defendant, that it aided in fraudulent acts of the 2nd and 3rd defendants. According to the applicant, its reputation was tarnished, and the assessment of the Taxing Master was inordinately low to warrant the interference by this court.
3.The application was further supported by the affidavit of Moses Ndirangu, the applicant’s Director corporate banking. The affidavit reiterates the ground on face of the application save for annexing the Taxing Master’s decision.
4.In opposing the application, the plaintiffs filed a notice of preliminary objection dated April 22, 2022, adducing the following grounds: -
5.Directions were then issued that the application and the notice of preliminary objection be canvassed by way of written submissions and as the record reflects, both sides complied with those directions. The 7th defendant/applicant filed two sets of submissions dated March 25, 2022 and August 15, 2022 respectively whilst those of the plaintiffs are dated July 20, 2022. I have read through those submission and will highlight them in my analysis.
Analysis and Determination
6.Having considered the pleadings filed by the parties as well as thesubmission and the authorities relied on, I am of the view that the issues which do crystalize for determination are as follows: -
7.On the first issue, whereas the plaintiffs/respondents submitted that the reference is fatally defective for having been filed outside the prescribed timelines and for not giving prior notice to the Taxing Officer. The 7th defendant/applicant submitted that it received a copy of the ruling on January 24, 2022, and it was well within the 14 days timelines to file the reference on February 4, 2022. The applicant further submitted that its letter dated the January 19, 2022 was sufficient notice to the Taxing Master.
8.It is noteworthy that the impugned decision by the Taxing Master was delivered on January 14, 2022 and the court record shows that the 7th defendant wrote to the Deputy Registrar vide a letter dated January 19, 2022 seeking to be furnished with a copy of the decision/Taxing Master’s reasons for taxation. No evidence was introduced to rebut the representation that the reasons for taxation were availed to the 7th defendant on February 24, 2022. Without prove to the contrary, while counting the fourteen (14) days from February 24, 2022 for which the reference ought to have been filed, it is indisputable that the reference dated February 4, 2022 was filed within the 14-days window stipulated in paragraph 11 of the Advocates Remuneration Order.
9.As for whether the reference is defective for failing to give notice as required under rule 11(1) of the Advocates Remuneration Order, the plaintiff/respondents submitted that the substratum of the application is pegged on such notice and without it, the court ought to strike out the taxation. The 7th defendant on the other submitted that its letter dated January 19, 2022 suffices the notice contemplated under rule 11(1). They buttressed the position in reliance on the case of Lubulellah &Associates Advocates v Kenyatta National Hospital  eKLR.
10.I have read through the letter dated January 19, 2022 and its verbatim account is reproduced as follows: -
12.In as much as I agree with the applicants that the above provision does not prescribe the form of the notice to be given, the purport of the provision makes it mandatory for the aggrieved party to give a notification in writing specifying the items of taxation to which such party objects to and it is expected that only those items objected to as specified in the notification would find their way into the reference.
14.What I have gathered from the above decision is that, in as much as a letter addressed to the Taxing Master may suffice as a notice under rule 11(1) of the Advocates (Remuneration) Order, such a letter must clearly indicate the intention to file a reference, ask for reasons of taxation (if not provided in the ruling) and should specify the items which the applicant wishes to object to. In the instant case, the letter dated January 19, 2022 did not comply with rule 11(1) (supra) since it did not specify the items objected to so that the taxing officer could give his reasons on them.
17.The above having been said and having established that the 7th defendant’s letter dated January 19, 2022 is vague to be said to comply with rule 11(1) of the Advocates Remuneration Order, it then follows that the chamber summons dated February 4, 2022 is incompetent and the 7th defendant/applicant cannot be availed the orders sought. On the same wavelength, I find ground No (3) of the notice of preliminary objection merited.
18.For the above-stated reasons, this court declines to grant the orders sought in the chamber summons dated February 4, 2022 and I proceed to strike it out with costs to the plaintiffs/respondents.It is so ordered.