Bankruptcy Court

I once interacted with someone in a Nairobi bankruptcy Court. He was always dressed in a new suit, white or grey, even as his lawyer told the judge he was too poor to pay his bank and other debts. He was said to drive a Mercedes jeep, but there were no assets that were listed in his name.

His lawyer always tried to ensure that the Court processes took as many months as possible to frustrate his creditors. There was one time where his lawyer slipped up by saying his client would not be able to attend the next hearing as he had to make an overseas business trip, at which point the presiding court official perked up and asked “how is that possible?” – this was because the client should have lodged his passport with the Court as a pre-condition of the bankruptcy proceedings.

The long delays seemed to work as, one by one, his creditors stopped showing up at the bankruptcy hearings. Either they lost interest in the debt or got frustrated with the long processes, but in some cases, they accepted small payments from the man for a fraction of what they had initially demanded.

A few months ago, one of the companies of the previously bankrupt man won a Court judgment, including a large sum of money as compensation, when a judge ruled that the government which had shut down the company, could not prove that it had engaged in fraud.