JMK Partners Advocate

The Stakes Have Never Been Higher: High Court Raises the Standard of Care Hotels Owe their Guests

The High Court recently heralded a ground-breaking decision that is set to transform the hospitality landscape in Kenya. In a case that captured the masses’ attention, Dong Yi v Sun Africa Hotels Limited t/a Keekorok Lodge Masai Mara; First Assurance Company Limited (Civil Suit 12 of 2019), a foreign couple’s idyllic getaway took a tragic turn, sparking a legal shift that would rewrite the playbook for hotel accountability.

The saga unfolded within the lavish confines of a prestigious hotel, where a chance encounter escalated into a harrowing ordeal. What began as a mere altercation between guests swiftly turned into a chilling act of violence. One of the guests used a steak knife that would routinely be placed in the dining area to stab the complainant and his spouse, leaving the complainant’s spouse fatally wounded and eventually meeting her demise. The complainant himself was left grappling with profound loss and seeking redress from the hotel’s doorstep.

But the hotel, armed with legal defences and industry standards, sought to deflect blame, citing the unpredictable nature of the incident and the robust security measures in place. Yet, the court saw through the mask of complacency, holding the hotel culpable for its failure to swiftly quell the escalating conflict and safeguard its guests.

This watershed ruling sends shockwaves throughout the hospitality landscape, compelling hotels to re-evaluate their duty of care and elevate their security protocols to unprecedented heights. No longer can hotels afford to overlook brewing tensions or rely on outdated security measures. The mandate is clear: guest safety must reign supreme, and hotels must spare no effort in fortifying their defences.

With damages awarded to the complainant reaching a staggering 3 million USD, the financial fallout serves as a stark reminder of the high stakes at play. The era of negligence is over; the time for vigilance and accountability is now. As the hospitality sector braces for this new normal, one thing is abundantly clear: business as usual is simply no longer tenable.

As we navigate this uncharted territory, hotels must heed the lessons to be learnt from this High Court case. By prioritizing proactive security measures and fostering a culture of vigilance, hotels can not only shield their guests from harm but also safeguard their own reputation and viability.

This verdict will serve as a clarion call for the hospitality industry to rise to the occasion—to embrace a new era of responsibility and adherence to duty of care.

At JMK Partners Advocates, we pride ourselves on our prowess in litigation, navigating the complex legal landscape with expertise and tenacity. As seasoned legal practitioners, we are keenly attuned to the ripple effects of court decisions, such as the recent verdict that seeks to reshape hotel liability standards. With a keen eye for detail and a deep understanding of the law, we recognize the profound impact this ruling holds for our clients. As such, we remain vigilant in our commitment to safeguarding their interests and advocating for their rights in the face of evolving legal precedents. With JMK Partners Advocates by your side, rest assured that your legal matters are in capable hands, guided by, innovation, integrity, and unwavering dedication to achieving optimal outcomes.

This article is for informational purposes only and should not be taken to be or construed as a legal opinion. For more insights, please do not hesitate to contact