Kenya business contract law and negotiation

What do you need to know about business in Kenya culture?

Kenya is a diverse country with various races living together. When you do business in Kenya, it is important to pay attention to cultural differences. Hierarchy is important in the Kenyan culture.

When you meet a group of people, try to greet everyone individually, and the most senior person should be greeted first. Rushing during greetings is considered rude in Kenya. Making small talks is a common practice.

Kenyan people may not jump right into business matters. However, while making small talks, topics about politics and ethnicities should be avoided.

Kenyans do not like to indulge in direct and frank talk. They will explain what they mean in a sensitive way. This helps in protecting one’s face and the relationship.

Kenyans use gesture and loud voice for emphasis especially during disagreements.
It is customary to inquire about family before diving into a business discussion.

Things to remember in business meetings

Handshakes are an accepted form of business greeting

  • Handshakes are an accepted form of business greeting
  • When you meet for the first time, the handshake is short. Handshakes among known people are longer.
  • Lower your eyes, as a sign of respect, when greeting seniors or a person of higher status.
  • Men wait for a woman to extend her hand.
  • Do not rush a greeting – it is taken as extremely rude.
  • Titles are important. Use the honorific title or any academic or professional title.
  • Never use first name unless invited to do so.
  • Present and receive business cards with two hands.

What are negotiation tactics in Kenya?

  • For new relationships, diplomacy is of paramount importance.
  • Kenyan people are not used to a frank and direct way of communication.
  • If you have a straightforward style of communication, try to tone it down as your counterparts may be uncomfortable with bluntness.
  • Try to be on time for your meetings.
  • Kenyans may use metaphors and stories to elaborate their points.
  • They may reply with what others want to hear, not what they really think.

How much is the contract worth in Kenya?

Kenyan people are not risk-takers. They only commit when everything is discussed. Contracts must be made in writing to have value. However, people in Kenya prioritise relationships over meeting deadlines. Therefore, deadlines will not be strictly adhered to.

What is Kenyan legal system?

The Kenyan legal system is based on the English law. Post independence, Kenya continued with the common law, the principles of equity, and the statutes of general application so long as they met the requirements of people of Kenya.

What is the arbitration and litigation in Kenya?


Article 159(2) of the Constitution of Kenya 2010 empowers the courts to exercise judicial authority including alternative methods of dispute resolution such as reconciliation, mediation, arbitration and traditional dispute resolution practices.

Courts in Kenya may refer a matter for arbitration, however, the parties are not required to disclose or use details of the arbitration process in a court argument, when they have signed an agreement to that effect.

The amendments in the Civil Procedure Act in 2010 incorporate many of the elements of arbitration in order to shorten proceedings within civil litigation.

The Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, Kenya has been training Kenyan professionals in arbitration since 1980’s.


  • Litigation funding is common in Kenya, especially for non-governmental organisations and charities. Under Order 33 of the Rules, the courts could permit a person as a pauper to sue. The condition in such a case is that those court fees are recoverable if the suit by the pauper succeeds.
  • Limitation periods vary. For example, regarding land, the period is 12 years, and the limitation for employment disputes is three years.

Expanding to Kenya can be challenging. It is advisable to research thoroughly, understand the culture, legal system, and necessary procedures to optimize the outcomes of your strategy.

Share this article
Enter new markets
boost global sales
We help you find and manage the right distribution channels in over 30 countries.

Market entry cases

RR Engineers
Le Joyau d’Olive
CAN Home appliances
Golden Red Trade Solution
HCP – the sweetener company
EEPC India
De Heus
Apart Group