1.These proceedings begun with a plaint filed in the Environment and Land Court by the respondents dated 31st January,2017 seeking eviction orders and costs. The appellants entered appearance and filed their statement of defence dated 28th March,2017. Both parties filed their respective lists of documents and set the matter down for hearing. The court on its own motion referred the matter to the Chief Magistrates court for pecuniary jurisdiction.
2.At the Chief magistrate’s court pre-trial directions were taken and the matter was certified ready for hearing. The matter came up severally for hearing but finally kicked off on 18th February, 2019 when the plaintiff called two witnesses i.e. PW1-Penina Namusila Nakhisa and PW2-Reza Khisa and on 5th August,2019 when PW3-Cleophas Wanyonyi Waswa testified and the plaintiff/respondent’s closed their case.
3.During the defence hearing date,30th September,2019 the defendant/appellant raised a Notice of Preliminary Objection which the court disallowed and directed that the issue raised therein be dealt with in the main suit. The matter came up for defence hearing severally and on 5th February,2020 the defendant/appellant filed a Notice of Motion under certificate of urgency seeking the following orders;
4.Prayer 1 and 2 were granted on interim basis pending inter-parte hearing. The application was heard orally and the court retreated to write its ruling which was delivered on 2nd July,2020. It its ruling the court disallowed the application with costs.
5.Being dissatisfied with the court’s ruling the appellant herein preferred the current appeal for orders that the appeal be allowed and the ruling and order of the trial magistrate be set aside and the appellant be allowed to amend her defence plus cost of the appeal. The appeal is predicated on the following grounds;
6.The appellant in her submissions states that the trial court did not consider the provisions of Article 159 (2)(d) of the Constitution which talks about administration of justice without undue regard to technicalities and which in essence introduces the overriding objective in civil litigation and brings in the aspect of considering the hardship, expense, delay and injustice that would be occasioned if a court made a determination based on a technicality. She further submitted on the provisions of Article 50 of the Constitution on fair hearing and asserted that the trial court disregarded these paramount constitutional provisions and condemned the appellant unheard.
7.The appellant further submitted on the overriding interests attaching to a registered title under Section 28 of the Land Registration Act,2012. She relied on the case of Samuel Kamere V. Land Registrar (2015)Eklr in support of her claim that the respondent does not qualify as a bonafide purchaser for value and that the defendant was the legal allotee of the suit property.
8.It was the appellant’s submission that the trial court disregarded the provisions of Order 8 Rule 3 of the Civil Procedure Rules where the law allows a party to amend his pleadings with the leave of court at any stage of the trial for purposes of determining the real question in controversy between the parties. She placed reliance on the cases of Eunice Chepkorir Soi v. Bomet Water Co. LTD (2017) Eklr and Sanyu International Limited v. Oriental Commercial Bank LTD (2017) Eklr.
9.Further submissions were made that the trial court did not invoke its discretion as drawn from Section 1A, 1B and 3A of the Civil Procedure Act to ensure justice is realized. The appellant further submitted that the trial court erred by disallowing the application to amend on the ground that the same was an afterthought despite the same being geared to correct an error apparent on the face of the defence. She submitted that the law allows any party to a suit to amend pleadings at any state of the hearing before its conclusion as long as the same did not introduce a new or inconsistent cause of action as was the case in her proposed amendments. She further submitted that the application was timely and the same would not prejudice her opponents. She relied on the case of Lewar Ventures Linited v. Equity Bank (K) Ltd (2022) Eklr and Elijah Bii v. Kenya Commercial Bank Ltd (2013)Eklr, Central Kenya Limited v. Trust Bank Limited (2000) 2EA 365.
10.The appellant further submitted that the trial court the guiding principle tha the error of an advocate ought not to be visited upon a client and the court’s decision in Philip Chemwolo & Anor v. Augustine Kudebe (1982-88) KAR 103, Mbaki & others v. Macharia 7 Another (2005) 2EA 206 and Cromwel Kitana v. John Mwema Mbevi Civil Appela No.50 of 1984.
11.The appellant urged the court to find that the sought amendments were necessary to facilitate the determination of the real question in controversy between the parties and to avoid multiplicity of suits and that the trial court misapprehended the facts and the law hence reaching a wrong conclusion. She urged the court to allow the appeal and set aside the ruling of the trial court.
Analysis And Determination
14.I have carefully considered the appeal, submissions by counsel for the parties and the authorities relied on. This being a first appeal, parties are entitled to and expect a rehearing, reevaluation and reconsideration of the evidence afresh and a determination of this court with reasons for such determination. In other words, a first appeal is by way of retrial and this court, as the first appellate court, has a duty to re-evaluate, re-analyze and re-consider the evidence and draw its own conclusions.
15.In Gitobu Imanyara & 2 others v Attorney General  e KLR, the Court of Appeal stated that;
16.I now proceed to discuss the issues raised in the appeal. From the memorandum of appeal, it is clear that the appellant contends that the court misdirected itself in disallowing the application dated 5th February, 2020 by failing to consider the provisions of the law and the guiding principles in allowing or disallowing applications to amend pleadings. I will therefore discuss the requirement under the law, viz-a-viz the case before me.
17.Section 100 of the Civil Procedure Act and Order 8 Rule 5 (1) of the Civil Procedure Rules, 2010 gives the court power to amend pleadings. Order 8 Rule 5(1) provides as follows:i.“For the purpose of determination the real question in controversy between the parties, or of correcting any defect or error in any proceedings, the court may either of its own motion or on the application of any party order any documents to be amended in such a manner as it directs and on such terms as to costs or otherwise as are just.”
18.The Halsbury’s Laws of England, 4th Ed. (re-issue), Vol. 36 (1) at paragraph 76, states the following on amendment of pleadings:
19.The principles for consideration in an application for amendment of pleadings are set out in Court of Appeal decision of Ochieng and Others Vs First National Bank of Chicago Civil Appeal Number 147 of 1991. They are as follows:a.the power of the court to allow amendments is intended to determine the true substantive merits of the case;b.the amendments should be timeously applied for;c.power to amend can be exercised by the court at any stage of the proceedings;d.that as a general rule however late the amendment is sought to be made it should be allowed if made in good faith provided costs can compensate the other side;(emphasis is more)e.the Plaintiff will not be allowed to reframe his case or his claim if by an amendment of the Plaint the Defendant would be deprived of his right to rely on limitations Act subject however to powers of the court to still allow an amendment notwithstanding the expiry of current period of limitation.
20.In Eastern Bakery v. Castelino, (1958) E.A.461 (U.) at p.462 it was stated thus:
21.The power of Courts to allow amendment is however discretionary and such discretion ought to be exercised judiciously.The discretion of courts to amend pleadings was summarized by the Court of Appeal in Joseph Ochieng & 2 others v First National Bank of Chicago, Civil Appeal No. 149 of 1991 thus:
22.From the principles set out above and as captured in the authorities cited, it is clear that amendments of pleadings should be freely allowed unless they are bound to cause prejudice to the other party. That amendments should be allowed even in situations of delay if the other side can be compensated by an award of costs. The caveat in amendments is that it should not change the character of the case and should not deprive the other side of its legal rights. Any amendments allowed by the court should be geared towards achieving a just and final determination of the real issues in controversy between the parties. In addition, the application must be made in good faith.
23.On the issue raised by the respondent in his replying affidavit on directions under Order 11 of the Civil Procedure Rules, I opine that certification of a case as ready for hearing does not take away the court’s inherent discretion under Section 3A of the Civil Procedure Act. Further, from the record it is clear that there was no Reply to Defence filed hence pleadings had not closed when the suit was certified as ready for hearing.
24.The appellant as rightfully noted by the trial court is however guilty of inordinate delay of three years or there about in bringing up the application since when the claim was filed in court. That notwithstanding, there is no evidence that the application is being made mala fide. The appellant in his supporting affidavit in support of the application and submission in the appeal submitted that the failure to institute the sought amendments in the 1st defence was an inadvertent error and that the appellant has since changed advocates and the errors of the advocate should not be visited on the client. She quoted Cromwel Kitana v. John Mwema Mbevi Civil Appela No.50 of 1984.
25.I wish to quote the court where in an attempt to narrow this discretion the High Court in Nairobi HCCC NO 159 of 1981 Patel Vs Amin held that;
26.I find the explanation by the appellant plausible and find that the appellant ought to be given a chance to present her case in full for the courts consideration.
27.On the issue as to whether an injustice would be occasioned in the event the appeal is allowed the court takes Judicial Notice that the respondents had called three witnesses and closed her case. The main principle is that amendment should not be allowed if it will cause injustice to the other side. In Institute for Social Accountability & Another V Parliament of Kenya and 3 Others 2014 KLR a three judge bench of Lenaola, Mumbi and Majanja J stated that;
28.It begs the question therefore, should the appeal be allowed and the respondents’ wishes to file a reply to the defence (since there was none) and even to recall the three witnesses who had already testified who bears the cost incurred. The answer to this is simply that the costs of recalling the witnesses shall be borne by the Appellant. Therefore, in my opinion the delay in filing the counterclaim shall not occasion any prejudice to the respondent and even so the respondent can be compensated by way of costs for the delay.
29.It is my humble opinion it is in the interest of both parties in this suit to put the issue of ownership of the suit property to rest and that can only be achieved if both parties are allowed to present their cases in full. I am of the view that the court must aim at seeing that a multiplicity of suits is avoided, the real matters in controversy between the parties are really brought out, the other party is not prejudiced, the character of the suit or defence is not altered and the object of the amendment is not to abuse the process of the court or unnecessarily delay justice or work an injustice.
30.I find that the proposed amended defence raises triable issues on how the plaintiff obtained title of the suit property. This question can only be answered if pleaded in the defence.
31.I accordingly allow the appeal and set aside the ruling of the trial court and any orders emanating therefrom and remit the original file to the trial court for hearing and determination. I also aproceed to direct that parties fix the suit in the Chief Magistrate’s court for pre-trial within 14 days of this judgment.Costs in the cause.