Advocates’ Complaints Commission Frequently Asked Questions

The Advocates’ Complaints Commission is a department within the Office of the Attorney General established under section 53 of the Advocates’ Act (Chapter 16, Laws of Kenya). It was established in 1989 and it became operational in November 1990. It is mandated to inquire into complaints of professional misconduct against any advocate, firm of advocates, or any member or employee thereof.
  • Any person aggrieved by the conduct of any advocate, firm of advocates, or any member or employee thereof.
  • Any person authorized by law, for instance, an MP or an advocate, on behalf of the person aggrieved by the conduct of any advocate, firm of advocates, or any member or employee thereof.
  • A close relative or friend authorized by the person aggrieved by the conduct of any advocate, firm of advocates, or any member or employee thereof in the event they are incapable to act on their own.
  • Any advocate
  • Firm of advocates
  • Any member or employee of a firm of advocates
You can come to our offices based at Cooperative Bank House, 20th floor along Harambee Avenue, in person and present your complaint by filling our help form. (Please note that the Commission’s help forms are also available at the administration offices in the Counties). You may also write to the Commission using our postal address; P.O. Box 48048 – 00100 Nairobi or email the Commission at the address acc@kenya.go.ke.
(i) Failure to account for client’s monies
(ii) Withholding money belonging to client
(iii) Issuing cheques which are subsequently dishonoured
(iv) Failure to honour professional undertaking
(v) Delay to prosecute or finalize client’s matter
(vi) Failure to reply to correspondence or communication from professional   colleagues or the Commission
(vii) Failure to comply with client’s instructions or acting contrary to clients instructions
(viii) Failure to release to the clients his/her documents where instructions have been withdrawn from the advocate
(ix) Overcharging client
(x) Failure to attend court
(xi) Acting in conflict of interest
(xii) Demanding legal fees from a person who is not a client
(xiii) Any disgraceful/dishonourable conduct incompatible with the status of an advocate
  • Cases relating purely to negligence of advocates in the discharge of their duties
  • Complaints against Judicial Officers and State Counsel
The complainant is required to accompany his/her complaint with a copy of his/her national identification card or passport. Provide copies of all relevant documents or letters including receipts, particulars of parties’ involved, insurance claims, policy numbers and court cases.
The Commission embarks on the investigation process and where a complaint lacks substance, the same is rejected and complainant notified accordingly. On the other hand, if there is substance in a complaint and the same constitutes a disciplinary offence, it is referred to the Disciplinary Tribunal for further appropriate action.

Further the Commission has a mandate under section 53 (5) of the Advocates Act to endeavor to promote reconciliation, encourage and facilitate amicable settlement between the parties to the complaint where appropriate through the In-House Dispute Resolution mechanism.

The Commission usually refers such cases to institutions that have a proven track record to handle complaints of any given nature. No one is sent away without invaluable advice as to how to handle the problem or given an idea of who might be of better help.
The Commission does not charge for its services to the public.

Other Arising Questions

The caller will be required to provide the following information;

  • File reference number.
  • His/her full names as indicated in the complaint.
  • His/her national identity card/passport number as indicated in the complaint.
  • The name of the advocate or firm of advocates complained against.
  • Date when he/she lodged the complaint at the Commission.
  • The name of the State Counsel handling the complaint. (Available in any correspondence written to the client by the Commission).
The conduct of an advocate in the carrying out of his or her professional duties.
Your advocate should;

  • Act ethically and abide by the law.
  • Not reveal anything you tell him or her in confidence exempt in a life threatening situation.
  • Allow you to make a final decision on how your case will be handled.
  • Exercise independent judgment on your behalf.
  • Keep you updated on your matter.
To help avoid some problems or misunderstandings, as a client, you should;

  • Make sure the advocate you are dealing with is licensed. Avoid falling victim to someone imposing as an advocate.
  • Understand exactly what your advocate will be doing for you and what it will cost. An agreement of fees with the advocate should be put in writing. This will help you track your costs and avoid surprises.
  • Be completely honest and provide all information related to your case. Make sure the advocate always has your current address and contact information.
  • Supply your advocate with all documents related to your case and keep copies for your records.
  • Ask the advocate to estimate how long your case will take however; be aware that some unexpected twists and turns in a case can delay the process.
  • Ask your advocate to keep you updated on your case either in writing or through a telephone call or by email.
All advocates must be licensed to practice law in Kenya and have an admission number. Thus it’s important to;

  • Ask for his or her admission number then contact the Law Society of Kenya using the phone number 0720904983/020-3874664 or by visiting their offices located on Gitanga road for information on the membership of the advocate and any public record of discipline.
  • Or visit the Law Society of Kenya website at lsk.co.ke and click on the Advocates Search Engine to check the status of the advocate’s license and discipline information.
  • If the advocate cannot be found in the Law Society of Kenya records and it turns out he or she is not licensed to practice law in Kenya then you should refer the matter to a law enforcement agency e.g. the Police or the Criminal Investigation Department. The Law Society of Kenya and the Advocates’ Complaints Commission’s authority over non-lawyers is limited by law.
  • If your advocate is not licensed to practice law in Kenya, ask him or her to return your file and other documents to enable you hire a licensed advocate.
If for example, your landlord happens to be an advocate and he or she hasn’t given you enough warning of a rent increase or an advocate has failed to pay his or her bill in a restaurant take note that the Commission does not get involved in such matters. To solve these problems, you need to exercise your rights as a tenant or as someone who is owed a debt.
Contact your advocate at the first sign of a problem;

  • Express your concern to the advocate by calling. Keep a record of the date and time of your call.
  • If your advocate does not return your call, send him or her a letter and keep a copy.
  • Your next step would depend on the nature of the problem.
Express your concern to the advocate and listen to his or her explanation. If you are not satisfied you can seek a second opinion from another advocate. You do have a right to change an advocate at any time but you should know that he or she will be entitled to fees for the work done.
First, talk to your advocate about it. The case may have been complicated or took more time that you realized or your advocate may have made a mistake.

If talking to your advocate does not solve the problem you can request for taxation of the advocate/client bill of costs in a court of law.

The fee dispute can also be resolved at the Commission’s In-House Dispute Resolution (IHDR) mechanism which is usually faster and less expensive than going to court pursuant to its mandate under section 53 (6D) of the Advocates Act.

This is a statement of account highlighting each of the services rendered by the advocate, when they were rendered and how much each service costs.
The court or the Commission assesses the advocate’s bill of costs by examining the advocate’s performance and supporting records then reach a decision regarding the fee dispute.
They include;

  • To protect the client
  • To protect the public
  • To protect the reputation of the legal profession
  • To protect the law
  • To protect the judiciary

Registrar General Department
Chattel Mortgages Registration Section

A chattel means any movable property that can be completely transferred by delivery, and includes machinery, stocks and the natural increase of stocks.
For a Chattel Mortgage to be valid and enforceable in the event of a default by a borrower it must comply with certain minimum but mandatory legal provisions as provided in the Chattels Transfer Act CAP 28 of the Laws of Kenya.
Registration of chattel mortgages is done at the chattels registry which is only one in the country and it is situated at Nairobi, Office of the Attorney General, Registrar General’s Department-Sheria House.
Stamp Duty of Kshs 200/= and registration fee of Kshs 50/=
By ensuring that the instrument is discharged by filing a memorandum of satisfaction signed by the grantee or her attorney.
  1. The Act governs the relationship between property owners and third parties who have contractual relationships with the former in respect of the chattels.
  2. It recognizes the role of the state in overall police power over the all property by demanding registration of securities created over chattels to avoid fraudulent transactions
  3. Collect revenue through stamp duty and registration fees
  4. Protect third party interests.

Civil Litigation Department

  1. Providing legal advice to Government ministries, Department and State Corporation in all legal matters.
  2. Conducting arbitration and other forms of Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR) such as mediation and adjudication involving the government.
  3. Representation of the Government Ministries ,Department and some state corporation in courts in all civil and constitutional matters instituted in the surbordinate courts, the High court and appeals in the court of appeal, in the supreme court, East Africa court of justice-Arusha and the African Human and people’s Rights commission-Banjul.

The department is housed on the 7th floor of Sheria House.

It is mandatory that any party who wishes to sue the Government must issue a 30 day’s notice. This is provided for under section 13Aof cap 40.
  1. The full names, description and place of residence of the proposed plaintiff;
  2. The date upon which the cause of action is alleged to have accrued;
  3. The name of the Government department alleged to be responsible and the full names of any servant or agent whom it is intended to join as a Defendant;
  4. A concise statement of the facts on which it is alleged that the liability of the Government and of any such servant or agent has arisen;
  5. The relief that will be claimed and, so far as may be practicable, the value of the subject matter of the intended proceeding or the amount which it is intended to claim
  1. For any suit filed against the Government there must be a 30 days of notice before a suit is filed. (Notice to sue)
  2. Upon the receipt of the notice, the civil litigation department requires the respective departments/ministries to respond to the notice within 7 days
  3. This means that in total the civil litigation department expects that proper instruction are received from the department/ministry within 21 days before a suit is filed
  4. In short, the civil process against the government commences with the issuance of notice of intention to institute proceeding in accordance with section 13 A of the Government proceedings Act. No proceeding can be instituted in court against the Government until after the expiry of thirty (30) days after a notice in writing has been served on the Government in relation to those proceedings.
  5. Once summons to enter appearance and defence have been received from the plaintiff, the defendant has only 15 days to enter appearance and another 15 days from the day of appearance to file a defense.
The court will be requested to enter interlocutory judgment against the Department concerned because it will be assumed that government ministry concerned has admitted the claim and have no defense to offer.
Yes, quoting the reference number (correctly) ensure that the letters/documents are not misfiled, and /or misdirected.
Members of the public can write to the Hon. Attorney-General for a legal opinion who in turn instruct a counsel to research and give him the results of the opinion for his consideration.
  1. By leaving the document within the prescribed hours at the relevant registry within the office of the Attorney General
  2. By leaving the document within the office of his agent whom he has nominated for that purpose (in either of the above cases make sure the document is with a person belonging to the office where the document is left.)
  3. By posting it in a prepaid registered envelope addressed to the Attorney General or any such agent as a foresaid. (This only relates to documents where personal service is not required).
Yes, they have offices in Mombasa, Kisumu, Kakamega, Eldoret, Nakuru, Nyeri and Meru.