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Legal services at the palm of your hand

Richard Muhereza has come up with a mobile application that allows users to connect with lawyers to obtain legal services, answer questions and obtain advice anywhere, anytime

There is nothing as horrible as being caught on the wrong side of the law for something you had no idea was a crime. And even worse, is the psychological torture of finding an affordable lawyer to represent your case in court.

Richard Muhereza, a lawyer by profession learnt this the hard way four years ago when he was arrested for innocently crossing the road at the wrong place on his way to meet a client.

He had just alighted from a matatu on Valley Road and was crossing the road the next thing he knew was that he was under arrest for not using the footbridge.

“They arrested me and despite being a lawyer, I had no idea that crossing the road under a footbridge is an offence,” recalls Muhereza.

Luck was on his side that day as he didn’t end up in the police cells, but a few days later, his friends too were arrested in separate incidences; one for smoking at a no smoking zone and the other was caught taking a boda boda ride without a reflector jacket. These events are what inspired him to develop an app that could help people find justice.

“Statistics show that one in every 10 Kenyans will spend time in police custody every year. This state of affairs is unwelcome and unnecessary in a country and continent that seeks to empower its citizens to achieve its development goals. These situations happen often and few people are aware of their rights,” he says.

In the year 2016 alone, sub-Saharan Africa registered 420 million unique mobile subscribers. Compared with the old ways of reaching out to people such as workshops, the opportunities technology presents are enormous.

Through his company KnownAfrique, Muhereza has come up with Haki app, a mobile platform in form of an application that provides people with mobile legal services.

It is the third version of the current version of the app, which was launched last year.

The app automatically connects anyone in need of a lawyer to one at low cost just by logging into it using a smartphone.

“The name ‘HAKI’ is a Kiswahili word meaning justice. It is an application that fuses the fields of law, technology and designed to deliver value to its users. The app was developed out of a desire to deliver legal knowledge and expertise to the masses in an accessible and timely manner when and where it is needed most,” says Muhereza.

The app enables the public to have the chance to get advice from several lawyers at a cheaper cost. This is where the HAKI app comes in handy, at that moment when as arrest is eminent or legal advice is crucial, the app can be used to obtain legal counsel, which can save anyone from unnecessary expenses and dreadful repercussions.

The App’s other objective is to add value to the legal ecosystem, which can be seen in its promotion of legal literacy and provision of easy access to lawyers. In addition to these, the HAKI app seeks to enable the provision of legal services at affordable prices.

“Kenya’s Gross National Income per capita is Sh313,000, which translates to about Sh26,000 per person per month, this is hardly enough income to afford regular legal services.

The Advocates Remuneration Order sets out the pricing of the various advocate services of which the majority are out of reach for the indigent, moreover, the Legal Aid Act does not make provision of pro-bono services mandatory which could cushion the poor from high legal prices.

The HAKI app is a compromise between the two regimes, whereas it is not a substitute for all the services provided by lawyers nor is it a free service, it enables the giving of legal advice at an affordable cost to a vast array of people,” he argues.

Over 800 users have downloaded the App since its soft launch in December last year.

Partnerships conversations are ongoing to branch out in Uganda, South Africa, Rwanda and Nigeria. The app can be downloaded from Google’s play store. Once in Google play store just search “Haki” and our strong yellow “Haki” logo powered by KnownAfrique will pop up. The user is charged per minute.

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