1.Before this court for determination is a notice of preliminary objection dated February 21, 2023 filed by one Joseph Munyi who is the vice chairperson of the 1st respondent since October 2022. He seeks to object the notice to show cause dated November 7, 2022 on the grounds, inter alia, that the notice to show cause is incompetent and fatally defective as it is contrary to section 12 of the Co-operative Societies Act and his identity as a person is different from the identity of the 2nd respondent. In the same breath, that the circumstances of this case do not warrant piercing of the corporate veil.
2.In response, the appellants herein filed grounds of opposition to oppose the notice of preliminary objection citing the res judicata principle. It was their argument that the same issue had arisen in this court before and involving the former chairperson of the co-operative society. That this court went ahead to dismiss that preliminary objection through a ruling delivered by Hon Justice F Muchemi on October 30, 2019. They stated that this is a ploy by the respondents to defeat justice and waste the court’s time and that the same need not be entertained by this court.
3.The parties agreed to canvass the application by way of submissions.
4.In their submissions, the appellants stated that the notice to show cause made out in the name of Joseph Munyi was for Kshs 4,810,959/=. They stated that in cases like this, the courts have often times not found merit in preliminary objections regarding committal to jail of the officials of the organizations. To make their case, they relied on the cases of Charles Lutta Kasamani Vs Concord Insurance Co Ltd & 2 Others eKLR, Kinatwa Co-operative Savings Credit Society Ltd Vs Nakimu Classic Travellers Sacco Ltd  eKLR, Nairobi HC Civil Appeal No 413 of 2014 – Samuel Njenga Vs Augostino Onanda & Orokise Sacco Ltd and John Richard Ouma Nyamai Vs The Co-operative Tribunal & 3 Others  eKLR where in all of these, the court found that it is not unconstitutional to commit the officials to civil jail.
5.The applicants relied on the case of Mukisa Biscuits Manufacturing Co. Ltd Vs West End Distributors  EA 696 to argue their case that the preliminary objection was not based on points of law. They relied on section 28 of the Co-operative Societies Act to support their argument that the officials of the 1st respondent are to be held liable and that the issues in the case of Salomon Vs Salomon UKHL 1, AC 22 and that no-one has moved the court to lift the corporate veil. They also relied on the decision in the case of Wamae Njenga & another Vs Embu Gaturi Housing Co-op Society Ltd & another  eKLR where the court held that the notice to show cause issued in the name of the chairperson of the co-operative society is an opportunity for the decree holder to enjoy the fruits of the judgment in his favour.
6.On the issue of res judicata, they relied on the definition of the term according to the Black’s Law Dictionary and section 7 of the Civil Procedure Act. They noted that the present matter was recurring in the same court, with the same subject and parties, save for the person raising the preliminary objection, and the court had already decided. That the court in the previous matter exhaustively addressed the issues raised in the present preliminary objection. In conclusion, they stated that the preliminary objection is an abuse of the court process and that it must not be entertained.
7.The 1st respondent in its submissions pointed out that the issuance of a notice to show cause in the name of Joseph Munyi is a departure from the principles on lifting the corporate veil in the case of Salomon v. Salomon (supra). That section 12 of the Cooperative Societies Act accords corporate identity to the 1st respondent and therefore it is different from it’s own chairperson.
8.It was their case that the provisions of Order 22 Rules 31 and 34 of the civil procedure Rules 2010 exempt the 1st respondent’s chairperson from execution as the judgment debtor. Reliance was placed on the bill of rights as enshrined in the Constitution of Kenya 2010 and Article 11 of the United Nations International Convention on Civil and Political Rights which both state that committal to civil jail for causes of action arising from contractual obligations is a violation of fundamental rights. On this they also cited the case of Re Zipporah Wambui Mathaara, Milimani BC Cause 19 of 2010. They also stated that committal to civil jail must be an option of last resort per section 38 of the Civil Procedure Act and Order 22 of the Civil Procedure Rules 2010 and the case of Sonia Kwamboka Rasugu Vs Sandalwood Hotel & Resort Limited T/A Paradise Beach Resort & Leon Muriithi Ndubai (2013) eKLR.
10.Upon perusal of the notice of preliminary objection, the grounds of opposition, the competing submissions of both parties, in my view, the issue for determination as a priority is whether the suit herein is res judicata. Once this is determined, then the court will find its jurisdiction to determine the rest of issues raised. In the case of Lal Chand Vs Radha Kishan, AIR 1977 SC 789 it was stated that;
11.Section 7 of the Civil Procedure Act provides for res judicata as follows:Similarly, in the case of The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission Vs Maina Kiai & 5 others,  eKLR), it was held that:
12.It is true that the preliminary objection raised by the 1st respondent’s present chairperson in this matter was also raised by the 1st respondent’s chairperson earlier in this same matter, in the very same fashion and was conclusively determined by this very court but differently consituted. Hon F Muchemi delivered her ruling on October 30, 2019 in which she dealt exhaustively on the issues identical to the ones raised by Joseph Munyi herein. The court thus became functus officio and the decision of the court has since not been appealed against. The previous case has since been reported as precedence namely Wamae Njenga & another Vs Embu Gaturi Housing Co-op Society Ltd & another  eKLR .
13.Needless to say, this is a clear case of res judicata and therefore this court will not take one more step in examining the issues raised in the preliminary objection.
14.In the upshot, and noting the provisions of the law and caselaw on res judicata, I find that the preliminary objection has merits and it is hereby allowed.
15.It is so ordered.