In 2021, our lawyers in Kenya, Mauritius, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda collaborated on multijurisdictional research on the use and impact of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs). for Debevoise & Plimpton LLP was doing the research for the United Nations Working Group on Business and Human Rights, Our lawyers contributed by investigating the use and impact of the UNGPs in six African jurisdictions, namely Kenya, Mauritius, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. Our contribution entailed identifying judicial decisions in these jurisdictions that cite or discuss the UNGPs, as well as decisions that concern other standards pertinent to the human rights obligations of businesses. Debevoise’s report was included in the Working Group’s report to the United Nations Human Rights Council in June 2021.
Cyrus R. Vance Center of International Justice and the Africa Regional Office of the International Commission of Jurists
Lawyers in our Kenyan, Mauritian, South African and Ugandan practices, along with our alliance firm in Ethiopia, worked on a legal research project that involved investigating government responses to COVID-19 in Africa.
The research was part of a wider study with respect to Eswatini, Ethiopia, Kenya, Ghana, Malawi, Nigeria, South Africa, Uganda and Zimbabwe, which we did in collaboration with Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP. The findings will be used in advocacy work with government institutions.
Clean Cooking Alliance
Our practices in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda advised the Clean Cooking Alliance, a clean energy organisation, on investment structures.
Our practices in Kenya and Uganda provided employment law advice concerning the status of Educate, a non-profit organisation that equips young people in East Africa with the skills to succeed in today’s economy.
We researched age discriminatory laws in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda for HelpAge International, a non-profit organisation that assists older people to challenge discrimination and assert their rights so that they are able to live with dignity. The results will be used to advocate for the prohibition of age discrimination in countries around the world.
Research on abortion laws
Our South African and Ugandan practices participated in a project researching laws for a non-profit organisation whose key objective was to assist women in countries with restrictive abortion laws.
Accountability Counsel (AC) is a United States-based non-profit organisation that aims to strengthen the accountability ecosystem around the world by helping communities to protect their human rights and environment. In 2021, AC sought our advice on the options for registering a non-profit entity in Kenya. Our lawyers provided an analysis of the two types of legal entities that AC was considering, namely registration as a branch of a foreign registered company or as a company limited by guarantee. Our analysis included tax and liability issues, such as any requirements to establish a local board or local directors, and any restrictions or requirements on sending funds out of Kenya.
We provide a range of support to Amnesty International in Kenya – from assisting it to establish and restructure its presence in the country to helping with its immigration requirements to providing general employment advice.
BioLite is a social enterprise, dedicated to helping off-grid families in Africa to access safe, affordable energy for cooking, charging devices and lighting their homes. We provided employment law advice to it, and assisted in drafting an HR manual and employment contract template for BioLite Kenya.
Development in Gardening
Development in Gardening (DIG) aims to teach communities in Kenya, Senegal and Uganda to plant restorative gardens. DIG, which is based in the United States, is considering establishing a registered non-profit organisation in Kenya. During 2021, we advised DIG on the registration options available and highlighted other regulatory issues to consider.
Eco Mobile is an innovative cellular provider with no contracts or monthly bills, allowing their customers to pay for what they want, when they want. In support of the Lex Mundi Pro Bono Foundation and its clients in East Africa, we reviewed founding governance documents for Eco Mobile’s social enterprise.
Friends for Life Foundation
The Friends for Life Foundation (FFL) is a non-governmental organisation (NGO) based in Kwale County and was established in Kenya in 2013. Its main objective is to give scholarships to high potential students to enable them to study at high school and university or other tertiary institutions. The students will then after securing employment contribute to other students’ school fees thus extending the Friends for Life Fraternity.
We handle all of FFL’s legal matters – from filings before the NGO Coordination Board to work permit applications for expatriates to reviewing of all their documents (eg employment contracts) to ensure compliance with local laws.
Green Kids’ Museum
In 2021, we helped Green Kids’ Museum with the incorporation of a company limited by guarantee. The Green Kids’ Museum, to be based in the Nairobi metropolitan area, will be an interactive site where children can learn about the environment and sustainable living. It will host school visits and family groups.
Joint Building and Construction Council
We assisted with the drafting of the latest edition of Kenya’s Joint Building Council Construction (JBCC) Contact, the country’s standard form construction contact. This was the first time in 30 years that the Contract had been updated. In March 2019, the President of the Architectural Association of Kenya (AAK) presented us with a certificate in recognition of our contribution to the drafting of the JBCC Contract.
In 2015 we sponsored the first ever TEDx in an African prison. The Kamiti Prison event covered topics from crime and crime prevention to education, with a particularly moving speech by inmate Peter Ouko, who was convicted of murder and has spent 17 years of his life sentence in the maximum-security prison.
Ouko started an activist group – Crime Si Poa, (Kiswahili for “crime is not cool”), which teaches about the consequences of criminal behaviour and how to change course before it is too late.
Philip Coulson from our office in Nairobi says: ‘I’ve seen the transformative power of education and believe that inmates should be given the opportunity to study and broaden their minds. We are proud to be a part of the first TEDx Talk in a prison in Africa.’
Keheala is a mobile health solutions company whose software system monitors patient adherence to TB treatment. We prepared a template employment contract, key employment policies and a memorandum of advice on employer rights and responsibilities. We also reviewed their existing consultancy agreement to check whether it complies with Kenyan law.
Komaza is revolutionising African forestry by allowing small-scale farmers to serve industrial wood markets. With headquarters in Kilifi, Kenya, Komaza have planted 2 million trees with over 6 000 farmers, making it Kenya’s largest commercial tree planter. Another project for the Lex Mundi Pro Bono Foundation, we advised Komaza on culturally appropriate contacts with small-holder farms in rural areas.
The Kulczyk Foundation is a private family foundation, headquartered in Poland, that has carried out over 200 humanitarian, education and economic support projects in 60 countries. In 2021, we advised the Kulczyk Foundation on its proposal to provide funding for a local charity to purchase a piece of land for community education purposes. Our advice included the ideal structures for the acquiring entity and the land-holding entity.
Legal Awareness Week
Legal Awareness Week is an annual national event organised by the Law Society of Kenya. Its main objective is to help the public become aware of legal issues. We teamed up with various statutory bodies to set up booths at the event so that members of the public could visit and seek legal information relevant to their respective institutions. Our IP team worked with Kenya Copyright Board members to advise on copyright issues relating to protecting learning materials, magazines and musical works.
This non-profit organisation manages and conserves the Mara Triangle in collaboration with the Narok County Government, conservation professionals and the local Maasai community. In 2021, we provided data protection advice to the Mara Conservancy on its obligations under the Data Protection Act in relation to data collection, use and processing of personal information.
Muthaiga Country Club
Muthaiga Country Club (MCC) in Kenya is in the process of establishing a charitable trust to be known as the Muthaiga Country Club Heritage Exhibition. The trust will facilitate donations, bequests and endowments of artefacts by MCC members for exhibition, research and preservation purposes. In 2021, we advised MCC on licensing requirements under the Heritage and Museums Bill, 2021, which seeks to strengthen the state’s approach to the regulation of private and public museums. We also advised MCC on the implications the Bill may have on the safety and security of its artefacts, identified risks in the Bill and proposed solutions to mitigate them, and assisted MCC to engage the relevant stakeholders during the public consultation process.
The One Campaign is an international organisation working towards eradicating extreme poverty and preventable diseases, especially in Africa. In 2019, as a member of the global Lex Mundi legal network, we assisted One in setting up a charitable affiliate in Kenya and provided other legal advice and counsel as and when requested.
Open for Business
Open for Business is an alliance of organisations that promotes workplace inclusiveness. In 2021, on instruction from the global pro bono network Thomson Reuters, our lawyers in Nairobi facilitated a webinar on LGBT+ for Open for Business.
The Peacemaker Corps Association believes that each and every youth can be a peacemaker in his or her community, harnessing modern technology to make the world a compassionate, safe and tolerant place in which to live. Alongside the Lex Mundi Pro Bono Foundation, we reviewed a contract for a partnership with a Kenyan University to set up a film studio with the aim of training and mentoring students.
In partnership with Operation Eyesight Universal, Peek Vision is rolling out an eye health programme in Kenya, using Peek Vision’s software and services, which include programme design, training and expert data analysis. In 2021, we helped Peek Vision to ensure that the programme is rolled out and run in compliance with the country’s data protection laws.
Safaricom Foundation was established in August 2003 by Safaricom Ltd. It is one of the largest corporate foundations in Kenya. Since its inception, it has invested over Ksh 1.8 billion (approximately USD 21 million) in economic empowerment, education, health, the environment, arts and culture, music and sports. The foundation has also responded to disasters and humanitarian emergencies. We assisted the foundation to review its constitutive documents and to adopt good governance practices.
Save the Children
Save the Children’s Emergency Health Unit (EHU) delivers rapid, high-quality healthcare for children and their families affected by natural disasters, conflicts and disease. As the needs of children are increasing, the unit underwent restructuring in 2021 through its transfer from Save the Children UK to Save the Children International (the movement’s international programme implementation vehicle). Our contribution was to highlight the employment laws that apply to employee transfers in Kenya, identify statutory procedures for effecting the transfer of staff, and provide best practice guidelines and make recommendations for this.
The Nature Conservancy
The Nature Conservancy (TNC) is a charitable environmental organisation based in the United States. Its activities in Kenya include connecting communities, community lead conservation, private and public protected areas, reducing wildlife poaching, protecting freshwater resources, conserving marine resources, promoting an integrated wildlife and cattle-based economy and sharing skills and knowledge.
We helped TNC register a trust for its conservation activities in Kenya. Our involvement included advising on the formal registration requirements, corporate identity and possible tax implications. We also prepared the necessary documentation.
True North Society
True North Society is a Kenyan non-profit organisation that seeks to help military veterans to address the mental and behavioural impacts of their war experiences. Retired members of the Defence Forces Medical Insurance Scheme (DEFMIS) are not eligible for mental healthcare. In 2021, our lawyers researched the legal grounds available to challenge DEFMIS in relation to this issue and outlined various options that True North could pursue in enabling military veterans to receive mental healthcare services.
TrustLaw, in collaboration with UNESCO and the International News Safety Institute
In September 2021, TrustLaw, UNESCO and the International News Safety Institute launched a ‘Know your rights’ guide for female journalists encountering online harassment. Our Kenyan Practice contribute the Kenyan chapter of the guide, which assists journalists to understand the legal frameworks supporting media rights in various jurisdictions. Other participants contributed chapters on Australia, Brazil, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Japan, the Netherlands, Sweden, the UK and the USA.
Upper Tana-Nairobi Water Fund
The Upper Tana-Nairobi Water Fund is a trust which aims to protect the source of water for millions of Nairobi county dwellers and ensure that the residents have access to clean water for generations to come. The Nature Conservancy is one of the trustees together with Pentair Kenya Ltd and Nairobi County Sewerage and Water Company.
We were involved in the registration and incorporation of the trust including drafting and registering the trust deed. We are currently attending to the incorporation of the trust, which involves drafting various documents (including a licence agreement for the proposed premises, affirmations from the trustees of their commitment to the activities to be undertaken and petitions to incorporate) and gathering the necessary documentation (including financial statements and the articles and memorandum of association).
Vance Center of International Justice
In 2019, Vance Center of International Justice began a project to shed light on the treatment of women in prisons across the world. We researched conditions for women in Kenyan prisons.
Veerayatan Kenya Trust
We assisted to set up the Veerayatan Kenya Trust, a private charitable trust whose main purposes include making charitable donations, running schools and a cerebral palsy centre, and holding assets like land.
Yunus Social Business
Yunus Social Business, Kenya (YSBK) finances and supports businesses that provide clean energy and safe water, reduce post-harvest crop losses or solve other human problems. In 2021, we assisted YSBK in connection with its debt investment of USD 70 000 in Alive and Kicking Ltd, a local ball manufacturer. We undertook a legal due diligence and prepared the transaction documents. In addition, we advised YSBK on its KES 10 million debt investment in Burton & Bamber Company Ltd, which assists smallholder farmers to reduce post-harvest crop losses by purchasing fruit and using it to make products that can be sold locally and abroad.
The Zana Africa Foundation works with local community-based organisations, policy makers and other key partners to equip adolescent girls with the tools they need to stay in school and thrive. Various lawyers from our Nairobi office assisted the foundation with a range of legal matters including; drafting template employment contracts and an HR policy, providing structuring advice and assistance to make their Kenyan operations easier and also advising on intellectual property matters.
One Family Foundation and Morrison & Foerster LLP
We participated in the Catalyst 2030: Social Enterprise Policy Survey, aimed at identifying the policies and legal systems that governments can adopt to help social enterprises and non-profit organisations to flourish. The partners in this project were the One Family Foundation and Morrison & Foerster, an international law firm. The Mauritian section of the survey, launched in January 2021, explored the governance, funding and taxation of social enterprises in Mauritius, as well as the government infrastructure available to these entities.
Institute for Transformative Technologies
The Institute for Transformative Technologies is a US organisation that aims to harness technology for sustainable development, focusing on practical business models with the potential for large-scale impact. We advised on using Mauritius as a base of operation to franchise medical oxygen equipment and infrastructure for distribution in under-served areas of Africa.
KIVA is a non-profit US organisation that operates an online platform to raise funds for micro loans. We advised on the general lending landscape and the regulatory requirements to help KIVA in the decision to make micro-finance loans available to social enterprises in Mauritius.
Nature Conservancy is a non-profit organisation working towards conserving and restoring land for the benefit of people and wildlife and to combat the effects of climate change. We advised on the set-up of an appropriate structure for the organisation to receive donations in Mauritius. Our advice included the preferred types of vehicle, regulatory and tax implications, ongoing compliance obligations and governance issues.
Apolitical Foundation of Southern Africa
Seeking to improve public sector effectiveness and governance, the Apolitical Foundation of Southern Africa develops and delivers non-partisan training to aspirant public servants, political appointees and elected public representatives in the Southern African Development Community (SADC). In 2019, we recommended changes to the foundation’s memorandum of incorporation that would enable it to meet the requirements of the South African Revenue Service and helped it to register as a PBO.
We worked with the Black Sash on its #KnowYourRights and #HandsOffOurGrants programme during 2019. This was particularly pertinent at the time because it had come to light that the personal information of many social grant beneficiaries had been abused. The bulk of the work that we did involved training paralegals to advise social grant beneficiaries on their rights. However, it was also important for us to support this work by providing the Black Sash with printed booklets that could easily be shared with paralegals and interested parties. The booklet outlines the provisions of the Protection of Personal Information Act, which was signed into law in 2013. While only certain provisions were in force at the time of publication, the information is empowering to the recipients and the communities they support.
Click here to download a digital copy of the booklet.
We provided pro bono legal services to the producers of Blood Lions – a documentary feature film investigating the canned lion breeding and hunting industry. The film shows how lucrative it is to breed lions, and how the authorities and most professional hunting and tourism bodies have become complicit in allowing the industry to flourish. We also assisted in having an application by Zanchieta Wild Cat Farm for urgent injunctive relief against the producers dismissed.
We have provided general corporate and employment advice to FoodBank South Africa NPC for a number of years. Foodbank procures food and other groceries, largely as donations from food manufacturers, retailers and government agencies. The food is then stored, sorted and distributed to social service organisations, which in turn distribute it to destitute people in South Africa. We advised FoodBank on the national restructuring of its operations. We have also assisted by reviewing service level agreements between FoodBank and various organisations and advised in relation to sponsorship and donation arrangements and ad hoc employment queries. We are currently exploring the possibility of setting up a black-owned enterprise to deliver to transport services to them.
FoodForward SA is the largest food redistribution programme in South Africa, distributing good-qualify surplus food from retailers to registered NPOs that provide at least four meals per week to people in need. In 2021, we advised FoodForward SA on various issues around the purchase of its new premises in the city. This advice included reviewing a lease agreement with the existing tenant of the property concerned and assisting with the appointment of a consultant to manage the construction of its offices. Further, we assisted FoodForward to obtain the licence required to use and amend the Professional Consultants Services Agreement Committee Client/Professional Services Agreement, and also drafted amendments to the agreement, provided a risk analysis of the amended agreement and assisted with the negotiation and execution of the final agreement.
Freedom From Interest (FFI)
We acted for FFI in its application to compel the President and the Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development to take all the necessary steps to bring the Subdivision of Agricultural Land Repeal Act, 64 of 1998, into force and effect. On 20 August 2020, the matter was concluded in the South Gauteng High Court, when the parties agreed to a draft order pertaining to the legislation and the draft was made an Order of Court. The legislation, which would end the subdivision of agricultural land without ministerial consent, had been stalled for 22 years.
GN Lub identifies and recruits aspiring entrepreneurs who could benefit from the support of major corporates. Our role was to facilitate a share sale in which a new shareholder purchased a 49% share in the business from GN Lub, the initial sole shareholder. We drafted a share sale agreement and a shareholders’ agreement to reflect the new structure, and also drafted a memorandum of incorporation and the relevant Board resolutions.
Greater Kruger Environmental Protection Fund (GKEPF)
The GKEPF is a registered non-profit company that assists with the combating of environmental crime. We helped it to obtain tax exemption from SARS, which will in turn assist it in raising funds.
Ibis Reproductive Health
Ibis Reproductive Health conducts research into women’s needs and partners with other stakeholders who use their research to improve policies and delivery of services around the world. They focus on increasing access to safe abortions, expanding contraceptive access and choices, and integrating HIV and comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services. We assist by providing pro bono legal services to the organisation’s Johannesburg branch, which has been operational since 2003.
In addition, our offices in South Africa and Uganda were asked to provide legal advice to a non-profit organisation whose key objective is to assist women in countries with restrictive abortion laws to access safe and affordable abortions. We provided advice relating to the potential criminal and civil liability of their officers participating in the programme in various countries.
Karisani provides IT support to big companies in Cape Town. It had two shareholders, each owning 50% of the company. We drafted the shareholders’ agreement and the memorandum of incorporation, and undertook the relevant company secretarial work.
Lawyers against Abuse
Lawyers against Abuse (LvA) is a voluntary association set up as a non-profit entity which provides legal services to victims and survivors of acts of domestic violence, homophobic crimes, sexual assault and other forms of gender-based violence and abuse.
We assisted LvA to establish itself as a voluntary association in South Africa and to acquire public benefit organisation status in terms of the Income Tax Act.
Lawyers for Human Rights and Section27
Operation Fiela was a nationwide campaign carried out by the South African Police force targeting illegal weapons‚ drug dens‚ prostitution rings and other unlawful activities. Our lawyers assisted by taking statements from the Operation Fiela detainees at Johannesburg Central Police Station. Due to this assistance, the team of attorneys from Lawyers for Human Rights and Section27 had more capacity to deal with the foreign detainees in an operation that was seen largely as “state-sponsored xenophobia”.
Let’s Build Our Country Fund
Let’s Build our Country Fund is an organisation that provides tertiary education funding and financial support to young people. We provide the organisation with pro bono corporate legal services.
Nayhosa Bursary Fund
The National Association of Hellenic Youth and Student Organisations of South Africa (Nayhosa) provides scholarships, bursaries and study support to members of the public who support the ideals of Hellenism and the Hellenic community in South Africa. During 2019, we assisted the organisation to obtain public benefit organisation (PBO) status and section 18A approval from the South African Revenue Service (SARS).
Orbis Internationalis is a non-profit humanitarian organization that focusses on improving access to quality eye health in developing countries.
We helped Orbis International to establish Orbis Africa – an advocacy programme for Sub-Saharan Africa which promotes the mainstreaming of eye health onto the public health and development agendas of Sub-Saharan African countries. We also assisted Orbis in preparing all legal and regulatory agreements and documents necessary to set up a non-profit company in South Africa. We assisted it to acquire tax exemption status, thereby qualifying as a public benefit organization in terms of the Income Tax Act.
Realema Teaching Intern Programme
Realema provides teaching bursaries to disadvantaged young people, enabling them to work towards teaching degrees via distance education while gaining full-time work experience at top schools. In 2019, we assisted Realema in setting up and registering its trust as a public benefit organisation, making it eligible for the benefits and responsibilities that go with PBO status.
Polokegelo Shelter for Abused Women
We represented the Polokegelo Shelter in a matter against the Department of Social Development on funding due to the shelter.
SA Scout Foundation
In 2021, we assisted the SA Scout Foundation in a matter relating to retired and senior employees of the Scout Association who were unable to access their benefits due to the fund’s deregistration.
Sokhulu & Partners
A local legal drama series, Sokhulu & Partners, aired in 2016 on South African TV. It explored, via impactful storytelling, the South African Constitution and Bill of Rights and how they apply in practice. Some of the themes featured in the series included hate speech, customary law, dolus eventualis (a popular catch phrase following the Oscar Pistorius trial), and rape in the ukhutwala context (ukhutwala is the cultural practice of abducting young girls and forcing them into marriage, often with the consent of their parents). We advised Penguin Films on this matter on a pro bono basis because we believed that the content of the series was in the public interest.
Songo.info is a social development programme that provides sports and recreational activities to children, particularly in the townships. It offers children a safe place to play and instils in them the ability to dream big and achieve their goals. We assist the programme with various pro bono corporate legal services. These services have included advising Songo.info on updating its child protection policy and related documents, as well as advising on the drafting and execution of a collaboration with a strategic partner to enable it to market its initiatives and raise capital.
The Shalamuka Foundation was formed to raise long-term sustainable funding for the Penreach Whole School Development Programme, which focusses on improving the skills of teachers and their schools in Mpumalanga and Limpopo.
Shalamuka Capital was started in 2008 when the Shalamuka Foundation was looking to invest in private equity and partnered with RMB Corvest. The funding received by the Shalamuka Foundation from Shalamuka Capital is used to facilitate the growth of Penreach. We assisted by providing the legal services required to incorporate Shalamuka Capital 2, another partnership between the Shalamuka Foundation and RMB Corvest.
Socio-Economic Rights Institute (SERI)
Acting on instructions from the Socio-Economic Rights Institute (SERI), we helped 241 families – about 650 individuals across seven settlements in Durban – who were evicted from their homes to obtain court-sanctioned approval to rebuild their dwellings.
South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC)
We have acted for SAHRC on various matters including:
- Qwelane v South African Human Rights Commission and Another, the seminal hate speech case in South Africa.
- Women’s Legal Centre Trust v The President of the Republic of South Africa, an important matter on the recognition of Muslim marriages in South African law.
The Master’s Community Wills Day
United Nations Foundation and the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership
We undertook research into and provided advice on the legislative and regulatory context of the gender pay reporting regime in South Africa. The research was part of an in-depth case study research project undertaken in 2021 on how gender pay reporting regimes are carried out and where they are seen to be effective or problematic. Our research was included in the final report, titled ‘Bridging the gap – an analysis of gender pay gap reporting in six countries’.
Teach a Man to Fish
Teach a Man to Fish is a non-profit organisation striving to make a long-term on global poverty by establishing sustainable, income-generating schools in the poorest countries in Africa. We helped it to set up as a foreign company and register as a public benefit organisation. As a result, they are now able to hire staff.
Cyrus Vance Center for International Justice
The Cyrus Vance Center for International Justice is a programme of the New York Bar Association and provides legal representation to civil society and human rights bodies in partnership with leading law firms around the world. Our lawyers have contributed to various projects run by the Cyrus Vance Center, the most recent one (in 2021) concerning education rights for girls in Tanzania. We advised on the laws and policies that support the provision of education for Tanzanian girls, and also provided information on education financing.
Landesa partners with local government to help rural farmers to secure rights and access to land on which they are working. They hope to set up their first office in Africa. We advised this US land-rights NGO on local employment laws in relation to hiring local professionals.
Trees for the Future
Trees for the Future works on the revitalisation of degraded farming land and fights poverty by providing Tanzanian farmers with training and material for agroforestry practices. We assisted the Tanzanian office of this US NGO with employment law advice, advising on a number of employment-related matters pertaining to the injury of a worker and the process of claiming workmen’s compensation. We also assisted with the reviewing of their standard employment contract.