The Commercial Case Law Index is a collection of judgments from African countries on topics relating to commercial legal practice. The collection aims to provide a snapshot of commercial legal practice in a country, rather than present solely traditionally "reportable" cases. The index currently covers 400 judgments from Uganda, Tanzania, Nigeria, Ghana and South Africa.
Get started on finding judgments that are relevant to you by browsing the topic list on the left of the screen. Click the arrows next to the topic names to reveal a detailed list of sub-topics. Most judgments are accompanied by a short summary written by subject-matter expert postgraduate students from the University of Cape Town.
This case concerned a dispute between the parties which had previously resulted in the matter being referred to arbitration and an award being handed down. The court considered an application to set aside that award. The respondents made a preliminary objection to this application on three grounds: (1) that the petition could not be heard as the filing fees had not been paid, (2) the application was time-barred, and (3) the failure of the applicant to adduce evidence of the arbitration award.
On the first issue, the respondent contended that as a non-government entity, the failure to pay filing fees renders the applicant’s petition liable to be struck out. However, the court considered the rule that a government party is exempt from making payment of filing fees. In determining who is a ‘government’ party, the court considered that this status extends to local government. Accordingly the applicant is exempt from paying filing fees.
On the issue of the application being time-barred, the court considered the argument that the time within which to institute action started running from the date of publication of the award. The court found that the time for challenging an award starts to run from the day the said award is filed in court for the purpose of registration and adoption. Furthermore, the period of limitation for filing an award without intervention is 6 months, but the time for challenging the same should be brought within 60 days from the date it is filed in court for registration and adoption.
On the third issue (the adduction of the arbitral award), the court considered that it was not properly a preliminary objection per the test articulated in Mukisa Biscuit Manufacturing Ltd v Westend Distributions  EA 696. The question of whether additional evidence ought to have been adduced is not amenable to treatment as a preliminary point of law.
Accordingly, all three preliminary objections were overruled.
The case dealt with an opposition to the filing of an arbitration award on the grounds that it was not filed in the form of a petition; additionally the necessary documents and exhibits were not filed.
The court held that the appropriate provision of the the Arbitration Act, Cap 15 of 2002 does not prescribe the form or manner in which an arbitration award should be filed, but merely provides that it should be filed. Further it does not matter if the arbitration award is submitted to the court by post or any other means, as long as the award reaches the court for filing. The court emphasised that an award must be filed in a manner that is convenient to the parties.
The court thereby refused to grant the application opposing the filing of the arbitration award because the manner chosen was in line with the law.
The court considered whether the appellant has a right in law to lodge the appeal.
The court held that there is no right of appeal against a decision of a court of competent jurisdiction unless that right is expressly provided for by statute. Further, an application brought to the High Court in terms of s 16(6) of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act is final and not subject to appeal.
The court found that the facts of the subject of the preliminary objection to the arbitrator's decision, the application by the respondent to the high court and the decision thereof fall within the ambit of s 16 of the act, therefore there is no right of appeal against the decision of the high court. Further, even under s 34 of the act there is no right of appeal against the decision of the high court. Further, there was no right to appeal in the high court because respondent did not comply with time limits, thus nullifying the order.
Accordingly, the court found that the appellant had no right of appeal, parties were ordered to pay their own costs. Further, the appellant as the successful party in the arbitration entitled to costs of the high court and arbitrator.
The issue was whether an arbitrator has power to amend a contract.
The applicant was challenging an arbitral decision arguing that the composition of the arbitration tribunal and the award itself were wrong. It argued that the arbitrator dealt with an issue which was not contemplated by the parties and that he amended the subject contract in contravention of clause 10 of the contract. The applicant further alleged that the conduct of the arbitrator showed bias in favor of the respondents.
The respondent on the other hand argued that there was no evidence to show that the arbitrator was partial. They further contended that there was no contravention of clause 10 because the amendments were made in terms of clause 13 of contract.
In deciding the case, the court held that amendments to the contract cannot be made without consensus of each party. It ruled that an amendment in terms of clause 13 required an arbitrator appointed in accordance with that provision. It further held that the clause 10.2 of the contract only allowed an amendment by agreement in writing by both parties which was not the case in the matter before the court.
On allegations of partiality of the arbitrator, the court found that communication between the applicant and respondent shows likelihood of bias. The court further ruled that the composition of the tribunal was not in accordance with the contract. All these amounted to breach of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act. The arbitration award was set aside.