Proprietors of pubs, hotels and bars got a temporary reprieve on Thursday after the High Court suspended payment of new licensing fees in line with the Alcoholic Drinks Control Act of 2010. The court ruled that the third schedule of the act which increased the license fees by up to 500 per cent was irrational and amounted to violation of the rights of the petitioners.
Judge William Ouko made the ruling in a case where the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Kenya budget hotels association and Nakuru Municipality pubs, bars, restaurants and hotel owners association had challenged sections of the Mututho law. He ordered the case forwarded to the office of the Chief Justice to constitute a three-bench judge to hear it.
He further directed members of the various associations to continue paying licence fees previously paid before the Mututho law came in to force. Justice Willy Mutunga for the constitution of a special three judge bench to hear the matter.
He noted that the petition raised serious questions related to the constitution. In the case, the business associations had argued that the increase of licensing fees from Sh5,000 to Sh50,000 which represented a 500% increase was irrational and without any basis.