Kenya Power & Lighting Co v Barongo t/a Bama Auctioneers (Civil Appeal E054 of 2021)  KEHC 16097 (KLR) (1 December 2022) (Judgment)
Neutral citation:  KEHC 16097 (KLR)
Republic of Kenya
Civil Appeal E054 of 2021
WA Okwany, J
December 1, 2022
Kenya Power & Lighting Co
Patrick Omare Barongo t/a Bama Auctioneers
(Being an Appeal against the Ruling of Hon. S. K. Arome (Mr.) – SRM Keroka dated and delivered at Nyamira on the 7th day of July 2021 in the original Keroka Principal Magistrate’s Court Misc. Civil Application No. 3 of 2019)
1.Through an application dated June 27, 2019, the respondent herein (an Auctioneer) sought the following orders: -
2.The appellant opposed the application through a notice of preliminary objection and grounds of opposition in which it listed the following grounds: -
3.The lower court considered the application and the auctioneer’s bill of costs and rendered its ruling on July 7, 2021 in which it dismissed the appellant’s preliminary object and taxed the bills of costs at Kshs 156,587.90 thereby triggering the instant appeal.
4.Aggrieved by the ruling of July 7, 2021, the appellant filed the appeal that is the subject of this judgment and listed the following grounds of appeal in the memorandum of appeal: -
5.The learned Magistrate erred in law and fact in proceeding to grant costs to the respondent.
6.The learned Magistrate erred in fact and in law in proceeding to assess the bill of costs at the awarded sum and issuing a certificate of taxation in respect of the said bill of costs and thereafter entering judgment in favour of the respondent.
5.Parties canvassed the appeal by way of written submissions.
6.The appellant submitted that the lower court lacked the jurisdiction to entertain the application as the bill of costs was not filed in compliance with the provisions of rule 55 (3) of the Auctioneers Rules. According to the appellant, it was the party entitled to file the bill of costs for assessment and not the respondent.
7.The appellant also faulted the respondent for filing the bill of costs in court before first serving him with an invoice which it could either settle or dispute before the board or the court.
8.The appellant argued that the auctioneer’s bill of costs was not assessed in the manner provided for under part ii of the fourth schedule to the Auctioneers Rules as the trial Magistrate allowed items not provided for in the said schedule. The appellant urged the court to tax off the items that were not backed by law or evidence.
9.The appellant urged this court to tax the auctioneer bill of costs at Kshs 5,000/=.
10.The respondent opposed the appeal and urged this court to uphold the findings of the lower court. The respondent submitted that the lower court’s decision was backed by law and evidence as the trial court reduced/taxed off several items in the auctioneer’s bill of costs before arriving at the final figure of Kshs 156,587.90. The respondent accused the appellant for flip flopping on the subject of the lower court’s jurisdiction as it was on hand arguing that the said court lacked jurisdiction while at the same time asking this court to refer the bill to another Magistrate for assessment.
11.It was the respondent’s case that the bill of costs was taxed to scale.
Analysis and Determination
12.I have carefully considered the appellant’s appeal and the parties’ respective submissions. The issues for determination are as follows: -a.Whether the lower court had jurisdiction to entertain the respondent’s application and bill of costs.b.Whether the instant appeal is merited.
13.Rule 55 (3) of the Auctioneers Rules stipulates as follows: -
14.My finding is that by dint of the above rule, the trial Magistrate was seized with the jurisdiction to entertain the respondent’s application. My understanding of the said rule is that while it may be desirable that an auctioneer first submits its invoice to the instructing client before moving to the court or board for assessment, the mere fact that an invoice is not submitted does not preclude the court from entertaining the bill of costs. That is not to say that he did not have jurisdiction to tax the bill as jurisdiction to do so is clearly vested in him by rule 55 (3) of the rules
Assessment of the Bill of Costs
15.The appellant’s case was that the respondent’s bill of costs was exaggerated and that the trial Magistrate did not adopt the right scale/schedule in assessing the same.
16.It is trite that the auctioneers charges are provided for at part ii of the fourth schedule of the Auctioneers Rules. I have perused the auctioneers bill of costs that was filed before the trial court and i am in agreement that the said bill contains several items that are not provided for under that schedule, namely;i.To our commission on proclamation.ii.To taking of inventory.iii.Out of pocket expensesiv.To service of proclamationv.To investigationsvi.To travelling for proclamationvii.Security Hire Travelling to attachviii.Towing chargesix.Labour and personnelx.Handling chargesxi.Execution feesxii.To disbursementsxiii.To postage and stationery and telephonexiv.Preparation of auctioneers bill of costsxv.Filing of auctioneers bill of costsxvi.Service of auctioneers bill of costsxvii.Preparation commissioning and filing return of servicexviii.To attending court for assessmentxix.To lawyer’s fees for assessmentxx.To court collection fees.
17.My finding is that the auctioneers bill of costs was not drawn to scale and that the trial Magistrate erred in allowing items that are not provided for under the Auctioneers Rules. It is also trite that even on items that are allowable in the schedule, the amounts claimed must be pegged on the law as the basis of the fees charged (see National Industrial Credit Bank Limited v S K Ndegwa Auctioneer  eKLR.
18.Having regard to the findings and observations that I have made in this judgment, I find that the instant appeal is merited and I therefore allow it with the result that the impugned ruling of the trial Magistrate is hereby set aside.
19.The respondent shall be at liberty to reapply for the assessment of his bill of costs but in strict compliance with the provisions of the part ii of the fourth schedule of the Auctioneers Rules. I make no orders as to costs.
20.It is so ordered.
JUDGMENT DATED, SIGNED AND DELIVERED AT NYAMIRA VIA MICROSOFT TEAMS THIS 1STDAY OF DECEMBER 2022.W. A. OKWANYJUDGEIn the presence of:N/A for the appellantAtisi for the respondentAnita – Court Assistant