Appeal Triumph: Equity Bank vs. Leonard Munyua Mbugua Sets New Legal Precedent

Appeal court clarifies concepts of continuing security and mandatory injunctions

In a recent judgment by the High Court of Kenya at Kajiado, a significant legal battle between Equity Bank (Kenya) Limited and Leonard Munyua Mbugua has reached a pivotal turning point. The case revolved around a mandatory injunction issued against Equity Bank, restraining it from breaching a contract and discharging a charge on Mr. Mbugua's property. The appeal court ruling has now set a precedent, shedding light on critical legal aspects and influencing future banking and property disputes.


The dispute arose when Equity Bank sought to enforce a loan secured by a charge on Mr. Mbugua's property, NGONG TOWNSHIP/BLOCK 1/310. However, Mr. Mbugua filed an application alleging special circumstances that warranted the grant of a mandatory injunction, citing the potential loss of land use as a consequence of the bank's actions.

Ruling of the Trial Magistrate:

Hon. A. Ithuku PM, in a ruling on 28th February 2019, found in favor of Mr. Mbugua. The magistrate concluded that the plaintiff had indeed established special circumstances to justify the issuance of a mandatory injunction. Notably, the ruling was seen as a crucial determinant of the entire case, which prompted the magistrate to grant the injunction, citing the plaintiff's potential loss.

Grounds for Appeal:

Equity Bank, dissatisfied with the ruling, lodged an appeal on several grounds. The bank argued that the trial magistrate failed to consider the defendant's rights, specifically those mentioned in the instruments governing the loan agreements. Equity Bank also contended that the mandatory injunction was granted prematurely during an interlocutory stage, thus denying the bank an opportunity to defend the suit fully.

Appeal Court's Decision:

Upon reviewing the grounds of appeal, written submissions, and relevant authorities, the appeal court addressed the core issues raised. The court considered whether the trial magistrate erred in failing to acknowledge the defendant's rights contained in the loan instruments, and if the mandatory injunction was wrongly awarded at an interlocutory stage. In its decision, the appeal court found that the charge documents clearly provided for continuing security, consolidation, and tacking. It concluded that the trial magistrate erred in requiring the bank to register a charge as security for a subsequent facility, as the second facility fell within the prescribed maximum debt secured by the initial charge. Furthermore, the appeal court held that the mandatory injunction was granted prematurely, as the determination of the breach of contract was to be established during the trial.

Implications and Precedent:

The appeal verdict sets a significant precedent in banking and property disputes. It clarifies the importance of considering the terms and conditions of loan agreements, as well as the concept of continuing security in banking transactions. The judgment emphasizes that mandatory injunctions should be granted cautiously and sparingly, only in exceptional cases where the benefit outweighs the potential detriment. The right to a fair and proper hearing remains paramount, and summary hearings should be avoided except in clear-cut circumstances.

With the appeal court allowing the appeal and setting aside the ruling of the trial magistrate, the legal battle between Equity Bank and Leonard Munyua Mbugua takes a new direction. The judgment serves as a notable milestone in Kenya's legal landscape, influencing the understanding and application of continuing security in banking and property matters. As this case concludes, it stands as a reminder that every legal battle has the potential to shape future precedents and impact individuals, institutions, and the legal industry as a whole.