Mt Kenya University gets temporary reprieve in 10-year dispute over premises

Mount Kenya University Nakuru campus. [John Muchucha, Standard]

Mt Kenya University (MKU) has won a reprieve in a case pitting it against businessman Bernard Gikunda Mwarania. The legal battle rekindles a 10-year dispute over university premises.

This follows a ruling by Nakuru High Court that allowed MKU to file a defence in the Sh511 million dispute against Mwarania’s firm, Step Up Holdings.

“The interlocutory judgement entered against the applicant or defendant on November 17, 2011, is hereby set aside,” ruled Justice Hilary Chemitei. 

“The applicant shall within 30 days from the date herein deposit Sh511 million in a joint interest-earning account in the names of both counsel for the applicant and the defendant pending the hearing and determination of the suit,” stated Justice Chetimei.

The court also ordered Step Up Holdings to provide a Sh511million bank guarantee from a reputable bank within 30 days pending the hearing of the case.

The university was appealing a ruling in 2011 that found it liable to pay Sh511 million to Step Up Holdings. According to court documents, in 2011 MKU and Step Up Holdings entered a verbal agreement to open a branch in Kericho town.

Step Up Holdings had until then run the MKU Nakuru Campus, paying collaborating fees to the university. Step Up Holdings claims that a month after their verbal agreement, the university forced the firm to close the Kericho Campus, leading to a loss of Sh953,881.

The firm claims the university then “illegally took over” the campus by relocating 3,807 students and 295 staff to other premises. The court sided with Step Up Holdings and found the university liable for Sh511 million. MKU did not place a legal defence arguing  the matter was for arbitration.

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