High Court Judge David Majanja threw out a petition filed by lawyer Andrew Barney Khakula on January 24th, 2013 in which he sued the Law Society of Kenya (LSK) and Attorney General arguing that the dress code violated Article 47 of the Constitution that guaranteed fair administrative action.
“The petition is frivolous and dismissed with costs to the first respondent (LSK),” ordered Justice Majanja.
In his two-page ruling, Majanja said that Khakula had further failed to comply with an earlier order to file written submissions before he directed the matter to proceed for hearing.
Justice Majanja noted that neither the petitioner nor his advocate had appeared in court despite the hearing date being taken by mutual consent.
“I am satisfied that the petition does not disclose a cause of action as he does not state how his rights have been violated or identify the manner in which the dress code infringes on his personal rights and fundamental freedoms.”
Khakula was seeking a review of the Advocates Dress Code which is to give guidance to lawyers concerning matters of dressing for purposes of appearance in Court.
Following the Judgment, LSK Chief Executive Officer Apollo Mboya dispatched a circular to the 10,240 Advocates countrywide to abide by the Revised Dress Code.
The CEO warned that Advocates who appeared in court or before tribunals dressed contrary to the Code committed professional misconduct.
The LSK had earlier opposed the petition arguing that its Council is empowered to issue regulations and directions relating to the conduct of advocates including the manner of dress in court.
The dress code bars female lawyers from wearing revealing clothes including sleeveless shirts or dresses.
It also made it mandatory for male Advocates to appear in court in dark coloured suits.
The dress code further bars the wearing of culottes, shorts and jeans – whether they are bare suites or not – skirts must be of dark colours and at least knee length.
Blouses have to black, charcoal, grey, navy blue or similar colours and may be printed materials of a combination of the colours together with cream and white.
Shoes must be black, grey, navy blue or brown.
Shoes that expose the toes of both male and female lawyers are banned unless one is suffering from a foot ailment, then sandals are allowed.
Female lawyers are allowed to wear trouser suits and braid their hair when appearing before Judges, Magistrates and Tribunals.
By Jane Gakaria.