Businessman Humphrey Kariuki is embroiled in court battle with a pension scheme for Telkom Kenya workers over ownership of a prime land parcel in Nairobi.
Telposta Pension Scheme Trustees Registered claims that Kariuki’s company, Crucial Properties Limited illegally and fraudulently registered the land in its name in 1998.
According to the scheme, the land was reserved for public use.
The scheme argues in the court papers that the transfer and registration of the suit property in the name of the private entity was fraudulent, illegal, wrongful, null and void.
However, Crucial Properties claims to be the legal owner of the property based on the adverse possession rule since it has occupied the land for 24 years without interference.
The company had filed a dismissal of the suit which was filed last year by the scheme seeking to recover the land on behalf of the pensioners.
Crucial Properties Limited wanted the court to throw out the suit on grounds that the claim is time-barred as it was filed in 2022, more than two decades after the company was registered as the owner of the disputed land.
The company said a claim for land recovery cannot be instituted after the end of 12 years from the date the other party occupied the land as according to Section 7 of the Limitation of Actions Act.
The company stated that having acquired the suit property in 1998, it was upon the scheme to file or start any suit seeking recovery of the land within 12 years from the date of such registration.
The court heard that no proceedings were ever filed or initiated to challenge the registration and ownership rights of the company to the suit property.
“The plaintiff’s suit is hopelessly time-barred in accordance with the Limitation of Actions Act since it has been filed over 12 years from the period within which the Plaintiff’s accrued right of action over the suit property would be applicable,” said the company in a preliminary objection dated October 4, 2022.
However, Justice Oguttu Mboya ruled that the objection lacked merits and that the plea of statutory limitation was not well grounded.
“I have also found and established that the plaint beforehand discloses a plethora of triable issues, which can only be interrogated and investigated vide a plenary hearing,” said the judge.
He stated that among the triable issues is the date of accrual of the occupation.
He noted that the pension scheme, in its court papers, contends that the information pertaining to the registration of the suit property in the name of the company came to the knowledge of the Scheme in 2013.
“It is appropriate to recall and observe that the provisions of Section 26 of the Limitation of Actions Act, prescribe that where fraud or mistake is concealed, the time for filing or commencing suit shall be reckoned and computed from when the fraud or mistake is discovered and not earlier,” Mboya said.