Mother spent days with me in police cell as newborn - top lawyer

Highly educated, Achach brushes shoulders with people he never imagined to meet in life.

In Summary
  • He was born 40 years ago in a humble background in Sidindi village, Ugunja constituency in Siaya county. 
  • One outstanding incident in childhood was an encounter with the criminal justice system early in life. 
Lawyer Daniel Achach at Milimani Law court
Lawyer Daniel Achach at Milimani Law court

He grew up a very inquisitive person, always asking why things were one way and not the other, much to the annoyance of the people around him.

Lawyer Daniel Achach says law paved way for him to be where he is now, brushing shoulders with people he never imagined to meet in life.

He was born 40 years ago in a humble background in Sidindi village, Ugunja constituency in Siaya county. 

The seventh born among 12 siblings, he grew up as a normal village boy and experienced all the village exhilarations including playing football made from polythene bags, bathing in the river where he scrambled for space with animals.

One outstanding incident in childhood was an encounter with the criminal justice system early in life. 

"I was told that a few days after I was born, my mum had a brush of shoulders with the men in uniform who paid her a not-so-courteous call and were not very amused with the small matter of a traditional distillery she operated inside our grass-thatched house to supplement my dad’s meagre earnings from menial jobs", he said.

 Consequently, he narrated, the young lady who had just given birth to him was charged, prosecuted and convicted of selling illicit brew by the district magistrate. 

 "The result was that I spent my first months on this earth in prison as mum could not raise the few hundreds of shillings she had been fined", Achach said. 

"Perhaps, metaphorically speaking, this heralded my induction and subsequent love and dalliance with the law and justice system." 

With his experience in law of 15 years, Achach says the space has given him more opportunities in life. Graduating from Moi University with a Bachelors of Laws degree was never enough for him.

"Today I hold a PhD in International Trade Law (Australia), an LLM in International Trade Law (Italy), an MSc in International Trade Policy and Trade Law (Sweden), and my Bachelor’s degree from Moi University among many other post-graduate specialised qualifications". 

He developed a passion for international trade law and regional integration in the course of law practice. 

Today the lawyer advises, trains and consults for governments, regional economic communities, private sector associations, judicial officers and academic institutions on international trade and regional integration. 

"I help in formulation and implementation of government trade policies, drafting and implementation of laws related to international trade and train government officials from different countries on the implications of various international trade agreements to their domestic industries,” he states. 

Achach is particularly excited about the prospects that AfCFTA portends for many African countries, particularly Kenya. He has trained government officials and private sector organisations across the continent on how to tap into the potential of AfCFTA through carefully developing domestic policies that maximise the gains from such agreements.

He is delighted that Kenya is a leading voice in matters AfCFTA and has put together a very robust team to steer the national AfCFTA Implementation Strategy. 

"I believe that this is a space that has enormous opportunities for lawyers, and would encourage more young lawyers to specialise in it. It is saddening that today our country hires international law firms and foreign lawyers to represent it in trade negotiations for want of capacity in this area," he says.

The private sector too needs the international trade instruments broken down in a language palatable to them, so that they can understand the opportunities and challenges presented by some of the instruments governments sign into.  

The small Jua Kali trader in Gikomba needs to know that, with full implementation of AfCFTA, the market for his products will have increased to a possible 1.3 billion people. He also needs to know how he can access the 1.3 billion people to sell to them. 

"Today, there is hardly an African country where I do not have a contact who I can call and he/she responds back with my name," he says.

"Even as lawyers, we must look at practice of law with the lenses of cross border practice. Issues such as recognition of professional qualifications in other African countries and free movement of professional service providers must be addressed." 

Achach says he  has seen a lot of positive improvements over the years in addressing the working conditions of judicial officers but still believes the question of remuneration and working conditions for judicial officers needs to be addressed.

The government must deliberately more funds to the Judiciary and make it attractive to the best legal minds in the profession, he suggests. This will substantially reduce the problems of backlog of cases, poor quality output and corruption. 

"The relationship between the Executive and Judiciary also needs to be relooked." He is married to a colleague in the profession for 13 years now.

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