Lawyers petition NHIF decision to outlaw affi davits in marriage
8 months ago, 17 Apr 00:27
Lawyers are up in arms over a decision by NHIF to outlaw the use of sworn affidavits as proof of marriage. The National Hospital Insurance Fund says it will only allow affidavits sworn by a magistrate as proof of marriage under customary law. The move, if allowed to stand, will lock lawyers out of millions of fees charged for commissioning affidavits. The Law Society of Kenya yesterday filed a petition seeking to compel NHIF to accept affidavits sworn by lawyers when processing application to include a spouse in the cover. LSK says the NHIF move flies in the face of the law because it impedes Kenyans' rights for access to justice. The lawyers also faulted the decision, saying it will burden the magistrates and derail the dispensation of justice. “The requirement that affidavits only commissioned by magistrates are acceptable imposes an unnecessary burden upon the magistrates who have a duty to ensure they deliver justice in courtrooms,” LSK said. “There are not enough magistrates spread out effectively across the country to ensure the citizens are able to have their affidavits commissioned.” LSK said the directive was an attempt to deprive advocates of powers granted under the law. The society said there were more advocates than magistrates, making it logical to leave the swearing of affidavits to the lawyers. LSK asked the court to quash the NHIF decision. "The court should take note of the fact that the duty to swear affidavits was given to lawyers by law," LSK said. Previously, couples would obtain affidavits sworn by lawyers and use it as proof of marriage. In June last year, the Attorney-General issued a directive requiring all customary marriages to be registered, failing which they would not be recognised under the law. Former AG Githu Muigai ordered for the registration of all customary marriages from August 1 last year. "All parties married under African customary law are required to register their marriages," the AG said in a gazette notice on June 9.
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