Diplomatic immunity invoked in spat over collapsed Kampala wall

From time to time, diplomats and other representatives of foreign governments become involved in legal disputes, both criminal and civil, in their host countries. At stake in all such cases is the important question of diplomatic or sovereign immunity, a principle that generally shields foreign diplomats and governments from legal action in their host country. The latest reported African judgment in which this issue has been raised comes from Uganda where the high court had been poised to hear a dispute over a collapsed neighbour’s wall, allegedly the result of repairs carried out by the British High Commission in Kampala to its own property. Now, however, thanks to a high court decision made last week, the question has become whether the action will be heard at all, rather than whose version of events is correct and whether the British High Commission must pay damages to its neighbour.