Camellia Plc – Kakuzi
Leigh Day secured a settlement on behalf of 85 victims of unlawful violence.
Posted on 14 February 2021
In 2021 Leigh Day settled a case on behalf of 85 Claimants who live in proximity to Kakuzi Plc’s (“Kakuzi”) agribusiness operations in Murang’a County, Kenya.
Kakuzi farms over 14,000 ha of land (larger than Manchester, England), on which it grows avocados, macadamia nuts, timber, and farms livestock. There are several communities scattered around its periphery and some located within it.
To police its extensive land holdings Kakuzi employed several hundred security guards. The claims were based upon longstanding allegations of serious human rights abuses by those security guards against members of the local communities.
The allegations included (1) that those caught on Kakuzi land can be assaulted, in May 2018 a young man was allegedly beaten to death (2) that women caught on Kakuzi land can be raped and (3) that guards have violently broken up demonstrations against Kakuzi.
Each of the claimants alleged that they suffered severe injuries after being beaten by Kakuzi’s security guards.
What our clients say
Leigh Day did a great job from start to finish, I was very happy and felt so good. I had nothing to complain about, they did everything right. The compensation has helped me a lot, before I did not have a home but now I have bought a plot of land and constructed my own house. In the future, the money will help me pay for my children’s school fees. Thank you very much and God bless you.
Leigh Day client
The legal claims were brought with the support of the Kenya Human Rights Commission, the Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO) and the Ndula Resources Centre. All of which had worked with the communities for several years to help investigate and seek redress for their complaints.
Kakuzi is part of the Camellia Group and its ultimate parent company is Camellia Plc (a British multinational company). Camellia Plc and Camellia Group companies Linton Park Plc and RBDA Ltd were the Defendants to the claim.
The settlement agreement had three main components. Firstly, the settlement includes financial compensation for each of the 85 Claimants. This will allow many to access medical treatment for serious physical and psychological injuries suffered because of the abuse.
Secondly, Kakuzi has confirmed that it will be put in place measures for the benefit of the communities on and around its farm.
- the funding of charcoal kilns and access to firewood so local communities can produce and sell sustainable charcoal for their own income generation;
- building two social centres for community meetings;
- employing predominantly female Safety Marshalls on Kakuzi's farm to give visible reassurance to those using access routes and particularly women;
- building three new roads accessible to the community without any requirement to obtain a licence to give people better access to local amenities
- the establishment of a Technical Working Group to survey and demarcate land which has been previously donated by Kakuzi and
- the design and implementation of a human rights defenders policy.
Thirdly, Kakuzi has confirmed that it will develop and implement an Operational-level Grievance Mechanism (‘OGM’) to allow any other allegations of human rights abuses to be resolved fairly and quickly without need to go to court. An Independent Monitor will also observe and report on the OGM.
Grievance procedures should be put in place by all companies who wish to adhere to the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and advocated for by industry best practice.
Leigh Day have agreed not to act in further claims in Kenya against the companies for a significant period. Leigh Day, however, will be able to continue to represent individuals against the Camellia Group companies and Kakuzi should the OGM not meet the high standards which Kakuzi has confirmed that it will meet.
What the media said:
- ‘Rape, beatings and death’ at Kakuzi, the Kenyan farm that helps feed the UK’s avocado habit – The Sunday Times 11 October 2020
- Kakuzi parent company sued for abuses and deaths – The Standard 12 October 2020
- Supermarkets cut ties with Kakuzi, the avocado farm linked to ‘violence and murder’ – The Sunday Times 18 October 2020
- Kakuzi seeks to settle rights abuse cases out of court – Business Daily 27 October 2020
- Sh696m payout for Kakuzi rights violation victims – Business Daily 13 February 2021
What our clients say
I felt like Leigh Day did really good, you gave us the justice that we deserved, if we were to fight for our justice alone, we would have not received the justice. I am grateful that you worked very hard to give us justice. The compensation has really helped me, I have bought a plot of land and I am starting to construct my own house. The money will help me raise my children, and I am going to start my own business which will bring me profit so I can sustain myself and save.
Leigh Day client
Meet the legal team
International human rights, business human rights and corporate accountability lawyer
David Roberts is a senior associate solicitor in the international department.