Tandem Law: sums awarded to Mau Mau victims akin to that of UK whiplash claims

A litigation firm acting on behalf of Kenyan victims tortured during the Mau Mau uprising have said the “matter is far from over” after the British Government announced payments of £2,600 each to some 5,000 survivors.

Tandem Law, which says it is representing over 8,000 Kenyan claimants, issued a statement following yesterday’s (6 June 2013) announcement by foreign secretary William Hague that the Government would pay compensation to the 5,228 Kenyans represented by Leigh Day.

New Park Court Chambers’ Bryan Cox QC, speaking on behalf of Tandem Law, said: “Reports that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) may have reached a settlement with a small number of claimants through one law firm are a welcome first step in the Government accepting responsibility for what happened in Kenya, however this matter is far from over.

“We are very concerned about the modest sums reportedly agreed with victims, which appear akin to the levels awarded for whiplash in the UK. Having been in Kenya for the past 14 months taking very detailed witness statements, it is absolutely crucial that the FCO understands, in detail, the very great suffering of all the victims to ensure they are properly compensated.

“It is on public record that there are considerably more genuine victims of torture and abuse. Tandem Law are confident that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office will fairly consider all genuine claims irrespective of which firm acts on their behalf as the interests of justice cannot be served any other way. We await and expect contact from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office forthwith.”

Leigh Day & Co partner Martyn Day has led the fight for the Kenyans, instructing Matrix Chambers’ Richard Hermer QC and Doughty Street Chambers’ Phillippa Kaufmann QC. The case has been to the High Court several times, and last year Mr Justice McCombe ruled that Mau Mau veterans could claim against the Government despite being out of time (5 October 2012).

One Crown Office Row’s Guy Mansfield QC represented the Government in that hearing, when the FCO accepted that the three surviving claimants had suffered torture and other mistreatment at the hands of the colonial administration, but legal responsibility by the UK government is denied.

It was also accepted that the claimants’ delay in bringing the claim was excusable or at least understandable in light of the ban on discussing the Mau Mau in Kenya, which persisted until 2003.

Tandem Law, a trading name of AVH Legal, was instructed by Eloise Mukami Deddan Kimathi, the widow of senior Mau Mau leader Dedan Kimathi, as well as General Waweru James Karanja Nyoroy.