Solicitors governing body: The Law Society of Kenya
Competition authority: Competition Authority of Kenya
Financial regulator: Capital Markets Authority
IFLR1000 ranking categories in this jurisdiction:
The Kenyan legal system is based on a combination of Kenyan statutory law and English common law - dating back to the country's time under British rule - and also comprises aspects of tribal and Islamic law.
The legal market is determinedly closed with very little foreign influence and, with the exception of associations, no foreign firms have branches in Nairobi. However legislative measures are currently being discussed that would allow foreign firms to open offices and firms such as Baker & McKenzie, have expressed interest.
Associate Kenyan firms are currently not allowed to use the branding of their network partners. Firms such as Iseme Kamau & Maema Advocates, who are part of the DLA Piper Africa Group, Coulson Harney, who are a member of the Bowman Gilfillan Africa Group and Hamilton Harrison & Matthews (HHM), who have an association with Dentons, have to maintain full clerical independence.
There has been a spate of consolidations in the market in recent times. Most notable was the merger between HHM and Oraro & Co in October 2014. Despite lasting only six months, market indicators suggest that this merger was perhaps in response to the expectation of the entry of international firms, and that a consolidation of Kenyan firms would inevitably follow.
The Law Society of Kenya is a member of the East Africa Law Society, which allows for advocates of the courts of Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi or Tanzania to practice in Kenya. This rule also extends to recommended individuals of the Commonwealth.
Anjarwalla and Khanna is the only Kenyan firm ranked tier one across all practice areas, and is the founding member of the Africa Legal Network (ALN).
In banking the firm advised M-KOPA on a large loan from a number of foreign development institutions, arranged by the Stanbic Bank Kenya. Another highlight saw the firm advising on a financing, by bond issue and bank debt, for Liquid Telecommunication.
In M&A, the firm advised on Nile Global Frontier Fund’s acquisition of a majority stake in GenAfrica asset managers, and Telkom on the sale and leaseback of assets, overcoming difficulties raised by the stake held by the Kenyan government.
Vivo Energy were a key client of the firm during the research period, with Anjarwalla and Khanna advising on its acquisition of Engen holdings and acting as Kenyan counsel for its IPO on the London Stock Exchange.
In project development, the firm have done considerable work on projects arising from the new government’s ‘Vision 2030’ strategy and is currently advising both Mota Engill and Bechtell on the road annuity programme, including the Mpassa Bypass. The firm has been active in the energy sector too, particularly in renewable energy, advising on the Mutunguru hydropower project and the 310MW Lake Turkana wind project. The firm also advised ResponsaAbility investors, on renewable energy projects in Guinea and Sierra Leone, acting as international counsel.
During the research period, the firm hired Jean-Baptiste Blanc as Of Counsel with expertise in financial and corporate law. He previously worked in business and a French firm Fidal.
"An 'A' grade in terms of advice, services and turnaround times." – Restructuring and insolvency
"Anjarwalla & Khanna is by far the leading law firm in Kenya providing full-service. It has developed a dynamic projects and infrastructure practice and is leading the development in the power & infrastructure space." – M&A, private equity, and project finance
"Deep sector knowledge and responsive and engaging team." – M&A, project finance and development, and restructuring and insolvency
"They provide good advice informed through extensive experience in the market." – Project finance and development
"I have been working and receiving legal (but also in many instances strategic and market conditions) advice from A&K for over 15 years now. I have never regretted applying the advice given. A&K is more than a legal firm: it becomes a real partner in your undertakings and their advice is valuable and reliable. Whether legal, regulatory, or on tax matters, they can always be relied upon. Their African Legal Network further enhances their strength and makes their African outreach invaluable." – Banking and finance, M&A, private equity, and project finance and development
"Probably the best law firm in Kenya when it comes to project finance of power projects. Knowledge of PPAs is second to none. The team of Amyn Musa and Aleem Tharani are the key to the firm's success in this area. The tax department is also good." – Project finance and development
"Experts in government contracts in Kenya. There is no better firm. They are also flexible on financial terms." – Project finance and development, and restructuring and insolvency
"Their output is fits all of the following: high-quality, robust, commercially reasonable but also daring in its innovation. They also offer in-house non-core legal complementary services (such as tax and structuring advice) making for a 'one-stop shop' for their clients." – M&A, private equity, project finance, and restructuring and insolvency
"Well connected, top partners are responsive and creative, provide excellent legal and commercial support and input. Need to develop the next layer of support as the firm has grown very quickly." – M&A and private equity
"He is strong and agile."
"Highly experienced and personable. Well connected and keen to get to the right answer."
"He has vast experience and is very inventive with solutions to problems."
"He is without a doubt the best lawyer in the Kenyan power sector."
"He has an uncommonly brilliant mind which he actively and wholly applies not just to get the deal on the table done, but more importantly to ensure its true long-term success. In this regard he is very proactive in stirring his client's thoughts with respect to any potential issues even outside of his strict legal scope which may in the short, medium or long-term impact the quality of the deal he is advising on. He is highly innovative in his approach to seeming obstacles, getting his client to appreciate where these cannot be shifted, but also excitedly exploring and proposing with the relevant governmental authorities changes to law or creative legal solutions to problems. Ironically if there is any weakness in his practice it's that he seeks to be consistently fair and balanced in his approach to his client's counter-parties (a bend which the client may not always appreciate!)."
"He is a great detailed guy and very accurate in drafting and arguing contracts. He's well organised and a quick worker. A really good lawyer."
"He has a sharp, clear and immediate grasp of commercial issues, a willingness and quickness to proffer solutions and precise drafting ability."
Amyn Mussa and Aleem Tharani
"They are both strong on project financing matters and in the application of Kenyan law in practice."
"In A&K you actually never work only with one lawyer but a team and each with its own expertise. This gives the client comfort that he can be assisted at all times even when the main contact is absent or on travel. Amyn is thorough, competent and experienced in the energy sector. He is seconded by an equally competent partner Aleem Therani. The duo are interchangeable and complementary at the same time."
"He is very well connected, incredibly smart and creative in terms of advice given; it's really a one-stop advisory shop. Not surprisingly he is in great demand and therefore you only get him for the critical stuff."
"Practical advice and prompt delivery. Highly effective and efficient."
"She is great to engage with, very technical and very tight with interpretations, you have the comfort that you know what the worst case scenario is."
"He is up and coming and very responsive."
Coulson Harney is a member of the Bowmans legal network, and was active across banking, project finance and development, capital markets and M&A during the research period.
In banking and finance, the firm advised Kenyan Airways on its debt restructuring, acting as principle legal adviser.
The firm has been active in capital markets and M&A, advising the Kenyan government on the issuance of its second eurobond. The firm are also advising Stanbic Africa on its exceptional tender offer to minority shareholders.
In infrastructure development during the research period key deals include advising Intex Construction on its participation in the roads annuity programme, structuring an annuity payment model rare in Africa with help from Bowmans in South Africa, and advising AKL Social on its PPP agreement regarding a large social housing development in Nairobi.
As part of Bowman’s in Africa, the firm worked on Google’s restructuring in Africa.
"CH is our preferred Kenyan legal practice. We found them to be highly effective and thorough." – Banking and finance, capital markets, and restructuring and insolvency
"Fantastic firm to work with. Very innovative in their legal solutions to complex problems and inclusive in their thinking. CH takes a very commercial approach to law and is very-solution orientated and practical." – Competition, M&A, and restructuring and insolvency
"Output/feedback and response is prompt and of quality. Richard Harney has a great deal of practical expertise and advice in the area of commercial law as it applies to Kenya - he is not hesitant in giving his measured opinion to his client. The Senior Associate assigned to work with us on a day-to-day basis delivered as required in a competent and client-focused manner. I get the feeling that they have a lot going on and may be in danger of bouncing too many balls at one time - having said this, they met our expectations in both assignments." - Competition
"Strong practice with sector specialists for M&A, restructuring, alternative dispute resolution, corporate finance and litigation. Good professionals and support team. Would highly recommend them." – Competition, and restructuring and insolvency
"The law firm provides up to date advice in a professional manner." – Competition, M&A, and restructuring and insolvency
"Very knowledgeable team with a presence in the countries we operate in, which is an added advantage." – Banking and finance
"She is best described as a formidable force in contract negotiation and project advisory. Her vast experience in projects, has proven invaluable over the last couple of years we have worked together. Her ability to quickly grasp the project and prepare complex documentation while at the same time advising on potential pitfalls and outcomes is incredible. Her work ethic is unparalleled. Her weakness is that she has no off button. She is ready to work at any moment and can be difficult to keep up with."
"Excellent lawyer with very broad experience. Led the legal process on a highly complex cross-border restructuring. A trusted adviser to governments, creditors and corporates."
"He knows his stuff and he is experienced."
"She did an excellent job. I have only good words for her professional skill and approach to a very difficult assignment over an extended period."
"Although he is more of an M&A lawyer, he is knowledgeable about many other aspects and is often my go-to person when in need of advice."
Kamami Christine Michira
"She's very diligent in providing legal advice and highly knowledgeable. Her manner of handling clients provides full confidence that the outcome of the service shall be of high quality."
"He is pleasant to work with. He has good knowledge of commercial matters and is innovative. Despite new issues cropping up in the brief he stuck to the agreed fees."
"He is excellent to work with and very responsive and client service focused."
Daly and Inamdar was particularly active this year in capital markets and M&A. The firm are currently advising on a proposed joint venture in the TMT sector, and advised on a number of acquisitions in manufacturing.
In project finance the firm advised Asante Capital on an investment by the Moringa Fand, including work regarding restrictions on foreign land ownership in Kenya.
Dentons Hamilton Harrison and Mathews merged with the world's largest law firm in 2018 and has been active in banking and finance, advising a number of local banks on the restructuring of loans to Kenyan Airways, guaranteed by the Kenyan government
The firm is currently engaged in a large amount of confidential work in private equity and M&A often representing the acquirer. The firm also advised General Motors on the sale of a majority of General Motors East Africa to Isuzu Motors.
In project development, the firm has a reputation for working closely with the government across all sectors. It also advised on a World Bank funded institutional review of the Kenyan oil and gas sector.
Iseme Kamau & Maema Advocates is part of the DLA Piper network. The firm worked in a variety of roles across financial and corporate deals, as well as in project development.
In banking and finance, the firm acted as lender’s local counsel alongside DLA Piper in OPIC’s loan to Acorn Holdings. The firm has also acted as lender’s local counsel for KCB, and borrower’s counsel for East African Breweries. The firm has also been active in the energy sector, advising CDC group on its financing of the Malindi Solar Project.
The firm’s financial and corporate work included acting for the IFC in its equity investment in Britam Holdings, and adving KCB regarding a line of credit facility offered by the Africa Development Bank. The firm has also been active in M&A, advising TOL Gases on its acquisition of a mining company, one of the few deals in this sector.
"Definitely the leading litigation, insolvency and project finance legal firm in Kenya. Very responsive and readily accessible partners with very competent support staff. Not aware of any weaknesses in the practice." – Project finance, and restructuring and insolvency
"Efficient and reliable service." – Restructuring and insolvency
"Very experienced and dedicated law firm. I am never worried over timelines with them and their ability to deliver excellent work. We are a business that operates across Africa, and some of its member firms are slow and do not exude as much dedication as IKM does." – M&A and private equity
"Very responsive, highly knowledgeable, practical advice." – Competition, M&A, private equity, and project finance
"Excellent strategic thinking with a solutions mindset."
"He has a brilliant legal mind and he is always ready with practical commercial advice as opposed to traditional off the book advice."
"He's a very committed and dedicated partner who is available anytime when need be whether it's night or weekend for the urgent resolution of matters. Can get quite busy which on the rare occasion can delay work sometimes, especially at the tail end of projects when other lawyers need to be followed up."
Kaplan and Stratton is a leading Kenyan firm in financial and corporate law, and is strong in project development.
The firm has shown a particular expertise in capital markets, advising various purchasers including JP Morgan and Standard Bank of South Africa on a recent Kenyan government bond issue.
The firm has also been active in M&A and is currently advising on the shareholder exit from Malindi Solar and its joint venture with Globeleq. During the research period, it advised shareholders in Youjays insurance brokers on their exit from I&M Group.
“Kaplan and Stratton advocates is a firm of high repute with unmatched skills and competencies. They deliver promptly and have high quality work. They are experienced in a whole range of product areas and they provide exceptional legal support throughout the transaction.” – Banking and project finance
"Very competent and very fast in responding. Spent long hours during weekends and public holidays to ensure the deadline was met, though it was a very tight and unreasonable deadline set by the acquirer. Always ensured that the seller's interest was well taken care of." – M&A
"Very good, responsive and understands the subject."
KTK Advocates are a Kenyan firm primarily active in project finance. During the research period the firm did much of its work in the real estate sector, advising the National Housing Corporation and county government of Nairobi on real estate developments.
In the energy sector, Kenya Power are a key client of the firm, and it advises the National Oil Corporation on financing projects using the PPP model, advice it also provides to the Ministry of the Interior.
Mboya Wangong’u and Waiyaki was active in capital markets and M&A, and across project finance and development. Deal highlights include advising on the issuance of an asset backed security in the power sector and a number of acquisitions in the energy sector.
In project finance, the firm advised the China Import Export Bank on its financing of railway and power projects undertaken by the Kenyan government.
In project development, the firm advised Trapos on its PPP contract to develop a cable car network across the Likoni Channel, and worked on a number of real estate developments. In the energy sector, the firm advised the operators of the Makindu solar power project and KenGen on a PPP contract to develop a 140MW power plant.
During the research period, MMAN Advocates was active in banking and finance, and M&A. The firm is the Kenyan member of the Eversheds Sutherland Africa alliance.
In banking and finance, the firm advised the Export Import Bank of the United States on the sovereign guarantee it received from the Government of Kenya as part of Kenyan Airways’ debt restructuring. The firm also advised the Government of Kenya on ECA backed loan and commercial loan facilities from ING Bank, with Eversheds Sutherland acting as international counsel.
The firm was particularly active in the aviation sector, advising lenders including Proventus Capital Partners and NCB Capital, among others, on aircraft lease and purchase agreements.
In M&A, the firm advised ABB Verwaltungs as Kenyan local counsel on its acquisition of General Electric’s industrial solutions business, and G4S Secure Data Solutions on its acquisition by Metrofile, again alongside Eversheds Sutherland.
Equity Bank Kenya were a key client of the firm recently, with MMAN working on a number of deals as lenders counsel to the bank.
MMC Africa have been active during the research period in finance, capital markets, M&A and project development. The firm is a member of the ALFA international association and has a relationship with international firm Orrick Herrington and Sutcliffe.
In banking and finance, the firm advised Astonfield Solesa Solar in obtaining financing from Grid Solar Fund, and advised multiple Kenyan banks including Barclays Bank of Kenya, KCB Bank Kenya and Equity Bank on financing projects.
In M&A, the firm advised on the management buyout of Bandwidth and Cloud Services Group, working across companies incorporated in Kenya, Mauritius and Uganda, as well as on an investment in the Kenyan company by Afrinet Telecom. The also advised on a number of smaller acquisitions, particularly in the TMT sector.
In project development, the firm is advising the Project Implementation Unit of the Kenyan National Treasury on two of PPPs in social housing. The firm also showed strength in the real estate sector during the research period, advising on major developments such as Buxton Estate and Kwetu Haven.
During the research period, the firm recruited Jacqueline Wangui as a partner in banking and finance from CFL Advocates and Juliet Mazera, who was previously a senior associate at Oraro & Co, as a partner in capital markets and M&A.
"I mostly deal with the banking law, and security documentation departments. The team is very efficient. Documents prepared have nil errors. The team is also very courteous and always willing to assist." - Banking and finance
"They are warm, proactive, professional and provide respect and dignity for customers." – Project finance, and restructuring and insolvency
"The firm has a number of partners who are very knowledgeable in their areas of expertise. They are normally extremely accessible and pro-active and tend to add huge value to my organisation due to these aspects." – Banking and finance
"He is very friendly, approachable and always willing to assist in unlocking difficult matters."
"He is knowledgeable in his work, a pleasure to work with. Extremely proactive and goes out of his way to solve problems that may arise; when he says something will be done, it gets done well and on time."
"She is professional and warm, has dignity and respect for clients."
Oraro & Co was active in project development and M&A.
Though the work done by the firm in corporate and M&A is confidential, the firm’s work in this area focused on the real estate sector.
In project development, the firm continued to act as legal advisor for the Great Wall Development Corporation on the development of a 350MW geothermal project, in collaboration with both the Kenyan and Chinese governments. The firm also represented KCB as lender’s counsel regarding a PPP under the roads annuity programme.
During the research period, the firm hired Patricia Mutiso as a director from First Community Bank.
"The law firm is very professional and diligent in providing its services and undertaking the work. They have very competent lawyers with wide experience and are very thorough in their work. The law firm is also sensitive to clients needs and they go out of their way to understand the clients' needs and provide the advise and service required." – Restructuring and insolvency
"The practice has very seasoned and competent lawyers who proactively respond to their clients. The lawyers are knowledgeable in both local, regional and internal law." – Project finance, and restructuring and insolvency
"He is a very competent and knowledgeable advocate with a deep understanding and application of the law."
"Has extensive experience, is client focused and provides high quality services. She is accessible, responsive and sensitive to clients' needs."
Walker Kontos is a leading Kenyan law firm with a particular expertise in banking and finance, operating as a lender’s local counsel. In this capacity, the firm has a strong relationship with leading institutions such as the Stanbic Bank, I&M Bank, and Standard Chartered.
In M&A, deal highlights included advising AutoXpress holdings on its acquisition of Trentyre Uganda and the IFC on its acquisition of shares in Africastalking.
Though the firm’s work in project development is confidential, the firm acted across the energy and infrastructure sectors during the research period.
"The firm has knowledgeable lawyers who are good negotiators." – M&A and private equity
"Very thorough and responsive, with a good team in place. Always ready to offer excellent advice." – Capital markets
"Walker Kontos Advocates has established itself as a leading law firm that has a profound understanding of the law enabling them to deliver better and more innovative solutions. Walker Kontos Advocates is also a frequent recipient of industry recognition for its strength in litigation and banking, and also recognised for its positive influence toward the development of jurisprudence within the region." – M&A, and restructuring and insolvency
"Approachable, straight talking, fair minded and very helpful."
"She has a profound understanding of banking laws and has been a great support to the bank on various matters ranging from securitisation, recovery and provision of advice on regulatory matters."
"He is a very solid lawyer. He is experienced, commercial and well-connected."