The newly-established Cofek Legal Unit (CLU) specializes in public law, human rights and public inquiries. We act for individuals and special groups who have been treated unlawfully by public bodies and others.
The Unit has been founded to provide a specialist legal service in the fields of public law and human rights. We specialise in claimant judicial review and public inquiries, among others.
We are flexible in the way in which our service is provided and always strive to meet the needs of our clients. It is not necessary to attend our offices, we can either come to you and/or conduct our work by e-mail and ‘phone.
We are keen to provide publicly-funded advice and representation in public law. Through the new unit we hope to deliver specialised public law litigation. We are particularly interested in using law as part of the process to effect social change through the use of test cases.
We strive for a just and equal society where everyone’s rights (especially consumers) are valued and protected.
The Cofek Legal Unit operates under the umbrella of Cofek. We work with volunteers and more so – lawyers who are mostly interns, attaches and graduates of no more than 5 years since joining the Bar. We are a not-for-profit legal aid firm and we do not as a matter of principle conduct private fee paying legal casework.
Donations and contributions from the public are invited through our Mpesa Paybill 978610 or any other conivenient avenue
What is public law?
Public law is essentially about how public authorities, such as County Governments and/or National Government departments use and exercise their power. When they exercise that power unlawfully or if the decision making process itself is unjust or unfair then it can be open to challenge – that challenge can be by way of their complaints system, or possibly by judicial review if there is no other remedy available or all available remedies have been exhausted.
The aim of public law is therefore to control the misuse of power by public bodies, those bodies or organizations can include: government departments, agencies and even government officials – Cabinet Secretaries, Principal Secretaries and head of Parastatals.
It also includes County Governments councils and those departments within them such as social services, housing and local education authorities. Public law challenges can also be made against health authorities, prisons and even the courts themselves.
Increasingly public bodies have devolved their functions to other agencies and bodies. Generally, and in most cases they will still be governed by public law if they are commissioned to act by an Act of Parliament or in principle can be seen as formerly carrying out an authorized public function.
County and national government and other public bodies obtain their power from primary legislation, such as Acts of Parliament and secondary legislation, such as regulations, delegation legislation, orders rules etc. This primary and secondary legislation inevitably affects all of us, health service users, those affected by planning decisions, homeless people, those affected by austerity cuts are all affected by public law decisions. There are instances with these matters and others where a legal challenge maybe possible.
How do public bodies overstep the mark?
Public bodies must act in accordance within the law – that means following primary or secondary legislation and therefore they must follow public law principles. Thus they have to:
- Act lawfully – they must act within the law and they therefore must not act in a way that is outside their powers, or do things they do not have legal authority to do.
- They must not act improperly.
- Act reasonably
- Follow fair procedures and must not have blanket policies.
- Avoid any form of corruption
When making decisions public bodies must not delay, fail to deal with enquiries or do things wrongly. They must comply with their legal requirements, provide relevant information and maintain accurate records. They must not fail to investigate or make misleading or inaccurate statements.
So, how can public law assist?
Public bodies can be local leadership, health authorities, police, prisons and courts etc. If a decision by a public body affects you adversely it is possible that it may be open to challenge. If a public body fails to make a decision that is also open to challenge.
It is important to remember that different decisions by public bodies will need to be challenged in different ways. If there is a right of appeal then usually that appeal process needs to be followed and exhausted before a judicial review can be considered.
If there is no right of appeal, no alternative remedy or all appeal rights have been exhausted before a potential High Court action then a challenge is possible by Judicial Review.
Calling Partners: 10 positions
We are calling on legal volunteers – either as interns, attaches or those who do not exceed 5 years after their joining the Bar. We have got flexibility. Those interested must be and have qualified from accredited universities and law schools. Terms of engagement shall be negotiated and agreed upon. We are not looking for full time staff. Successful applicants shall be offered a stipend.
Interested persons should have great personality, ability to read and write in both English and Swahili; Willing to undertake research and represent Cofek and our clients in Court. If you are the person, we are looking for, we request you to apply to join our team by writing to the: