President Uhuru Kenyatta on Thursday, July 9 assented to the Office of the County Attorney Bill; creating new positions in each of the 47 county governments.
The Act was tabled by Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei in 2018 and establishes the Office of the County Attorney in each county, which will be an office in the county public service.
It envisages the positions of County Attorney, County Solicitor, and County Legal Counsel.
The County Attorney shall be appointed by the Governor with approval from the County Assembly.
Notably, the Office of the County Attorney shall recruit a number of County Legal Counsel as the County Attorney may, in consultation with the County Public Service Board deem necessary.
It was one of six bills that the President assented to, with others including the Public Finance Management (Amendment) Bill of 2020, the National Drought Management (Amendment) Bill of 2019, and the County Governments (Amendment) No. 2 Bill of 2017.
The Office of the County Attorney Bill requires the holders of the offices of the County Attorney, County Legal Counsel, and County Solicitor to be Advocates of the High Court.
The County Attorney will be required to have at least seven years of experience as an Advocate of the High Court of Kenya and must meet the requirements of Chapter Six of the Constitution.
The County Solicitor and the County Legal Counsel will both be required to have at least five years of experience as Advocates of the High Court.
The County Attorney will be the Principal Legal Adviser to the County Executive Committee and shall attend meetings of the county executive committee as an ex officio member.
With the exception of criminal proceedings, the County Attorney will also represent the county executive in court or in any other legal proceedings to which the county executive is a party.
County Attorneys will also be responsible for negotiating, drafting, vetting, and interpreting documents and agreements for and on behalf of the county executive and its agencies.
The County Attorney will also be able to establish such administrative units in the Office as may be necessary for the effective discharge of the functions of the Office under the act.
The Governor will need approval from the County Assembly to remove the County Attorney from office, but only on specified grounds.
Grounds for removal of the County Attorney include serious violation of the Constitution or any other law, gross misconduct, whether in the performance of functions of the Office or otherwise, physical or mental incapacity to perform the functions of the office, incompetence, or bankruptcy.