1.The appeal herein arises from the judgment delivered on June 22, 2022 vide Civil Case No E030 of 2021 at Engineer Senior Principal Magistrate’s Court.
2.The plaintiff (herein “the appellant”) vide a plaint filed in court on March 12, 2021 sued the defendants (herein “the respondents”) jointly and severally for damages arising out of a fatal road traffic accident which occurred on November 16, 2020 along Nairobi — Naivasha road at Kobil petrol station involving motor vehicle registration number KCU 881P and the deceased appellant, who was a pedestrian and sustained fatal injuries.
3.However, the respondents denied liability vide a joint statement of defense filed on September 7, 2021 and attributed the cause of the accident on the negligence to the deceased.
4.The case proceeded to full hearing and by a judgment delivered on 22nd June, 2022 the trial court stated and ordered as follows:Kshs 1,635,986/=
The plaintiff will also have the costs and interest of the suit.
5.However, being aggrieved by the ssubject judgment, the appellant has appealed against it vide a memorandum of appeal dated, July 20, 2022, on the following grounds: -
6.That as a result the appellant is seeking for the following orders;
7.Be that as it may, the appeal is evidently on quantum. It was disposed of vide filing of submissions. The appellant submitted that this court’s role in hearing the appeal was stated in the case of; Peter M. Kariuki v Attorney General (214) eKLR by the Court of Appeal as follows: -
8.The appellant further argued that, the deceased was a pedestrian when he was knocked down by the respondent's vehicle. That, before he met his death, he was a long distance driver aged forty (40) years and was survived by his parents and two (2) children, though taking care of one of them.
9.That, the death certificate produced in court duly states that the deceased was a long distance driver and as supported by the evidence of (PW1) that he was a long distance driver which evidence was not rebutted.
11.It was argued that, contrary to the evidence adduced, the trial Court “decided to make the deceased a lorry driver and adopted a lower multiplier without any justification”. That, the court would have either stated that he was a general worker but if it agreed with the death certificate that he was a driver, then it should have also agreed with the evidence on record that he was a long distance driver and adopt the wages given by the appellant in its submissions and provided for by the regulation of wages and/or Kshs 27,000 per month and not then lower figure. Hence this is obviously an error.
12.The appellant further submitted that, the leaned trial Magistrate after awarding the deceased under Law Reform Act, decided to deduct the same amount of; Kshs 250,000 from the award, which is also an error. That, the law is clear on the same, since this is an appeal on award of damages, the appellant is aware that this is a discretion of the court.
14.Further, the trial court overlooked the appellant’s submissions and decided to consider irrelevant factors, ending up awarding the respondent a lower award under loss of dependency. The appellant urged the court to re-assess the award under the loss of dependency and find that the deceased was a long distance driver and the applicable wage is Kshs 27,000, which then works as follows: 27,000 x 12 x 20 x2/3 = Kshs 4,320,000.
15.As regards the issue of Kshs 250,000 the appellant argued that, section 2(5) of the Law Reform Act (Cap 26) states that: -
16.That, pursuant to the above provision, it is not in order to have deducted the subject sum. The appellant relied on the case of:
17.However, the respondent in response, argued that the award was aptly calculated and serves to adequately compensate the estate of the deceased. That, the court correctly exercised its discretion in adopting the minimum wage for a lorry driver which was Kshs 9,870.85 with 20 years being the length of time deceased would have lived, which was more than fair in the circumstances where “the deceased authored his own death”.
18.That, the deceased was not assured of a longer life, if the accident had not claimed his life and therefore the multiplier adopted by the trial court should be disturbed as the court did not consider the vagaries and vicissitudes of life.
19.The respondent relied on the case of; Nairobi HCCC No 4580 of 1987 - Christine Shoi & another v East African Cement Co Ltd & another as quoted in Leonard Wanganga Ngara & 2 others v Joyce Warurii Ndung'u & 2 others  eKLR), where the court stated that although the plaintiff could have worked up to age 55, there was a chance that due to vagaries of life, the plaintiff would have died earlier.
22.That the court in afore decision further stated as follows on the issue of double compensation : -
24.The parties rested their arguments and as a first appellant court, the loyal legal duty is to re-evaluate the evidence adduced afresh and draw its own decision on the contested issue, noting its lack of benefit of the demeanour of any witnesses who testified.
25.Pursuant to the grounds of appeal and arguments of the parties; two issue stand out for consideration being; the sum adopted as the deceased’s wages and used to calculate loss of dependency and the amount of; Kshs 250, 000 deducted from the final sum awarded as compensation.
26.As regards the first issue, it was the plaintiff’s evidence that the deceased was a “long distance driver” as stated by PW1 and the death certificate. However, no single document: a payslip, a letter from the employer or any kind of evidence to support the evidence of PW1, that the deceased was a long distance driver. Furthermore, I have looked at the death certificate and it clearly indicates that his profession as a; “driver” and not a long distance driver. Therefore, the sum of; Kshs 27,000 suggested by the appellant was not supported.
27.Be that as it were, the learned trial Magistrate relied on Legal Notice No3 of January 8, 2019. That notice does not to be correct as the correct Legal Notice No3 is dated December 19, 2018 and provides the wages of a lorry driver as Ksh. 9870.85. I do concur with the appellant that, there was no justification by the trial court why the court applied LN No 3 and treated the deceased as a lorry driver. This is informed by the fact that, the LN No 3 recognizes other drivers such as; tractor driver and harvester driver.
28.However, the highest wage is payable to the lorry driver and that is what the trial court applied and therefore the appellant benefitted in that regard. Furthermore, in the absence of evidence to support the fact that the appellant was a long distance driver, the court could have dismissed the claim or anchor it on any other law and/or treat the deceased as unskilled employee. Taking into account the circumstances of this case, the court did the best it could and I decline to interfere with that finding.
29.As regards the figure of Kshs 250,000 deducted from the awards, I note that there is no shred of explanation why the same was awarded and deducted and therefore the same cannot be sustained. In that regard I set aside the order deducting the same.
30.The upshot of the aforesaid is that, the appeal succeeds only in so far as the sum of Kshs 250,000 is reinstated. The rest of the orders remain as ordered by the trial court.
31.The sum awarded is as follows:
32.It is so ordered.
Dated, delivered and signed on this 12th day of September, 2023GRACE L NZIOKAJUDGEIn the presence of:Mr. Owour for the appellantMr. Njuguna for the respondentMs. Ogutu: court assistant