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.
The subject matter of this appeal was an allegedly defamatory letter published by the appellant bank, relating to the respondent. This letter was compiled by the second appellant who was the bank’s employee, directed to the respondent’s employer. The contents related the respondent's alleged indebtedness to the bank and sought their cooperation in recovering the debt. It later transpired that this letter ought to not have been sent, as there was in fact no debt as alleged.
The respondent then claimed that the letter was defamatory and instituted a claim for damages. The appellants counterclaimed and raised the defence of qualified privilege. The courts below entered judgments in favour of the respondent and awarded damages in his favour.
The question on appeal is whether the court below was right to have held that the defence of qualified privilege did not avail the appellants.
The appellants went to great lengths to show that the second appellant and the respondent had never met before the defamatory letter was written and argued that this fact rebutted the inference of actual malice. The respondent claimed that the second appellant was motivated by malice in writing the letter.
This court found that the finding of the court below that the appellants were actuated by malice was erroneous. On the basis that the pleading lacks malice as a requirement, the appeal was upheld.
The base of the suit was defamation whereby the plaintiff averred that the defendants defamed him.
The first issue was whether there was defamation and who was defamed among the two defendants. The court states that it is crucial in the commercial arena to inquire whether the published statement concerns the business itself or someone affiliated with the business in his individual capacity. Generally, the defamation must refer to the person defamed. In this case it had to be specifically pleaded whether the alleged defamation referred to the company business or to plaintiff witness individually.
For the second issue of whether the court had jurisdiction to hear the matter, it relied the principle contained in section 13 of the Civil Procedure Code that every suit must be instituted in the court of the lowest grade competent to try it. The object and purpose of the said provision is to prevent overcrowding in the court of higher grade where a suit may be filed in a court of lower grade; to avoid multifariousness of litigation and to ensure that case involving huge amount must be heard by a more experienced court. The suit should have been properly instituted either in the District Court or in the Court of the Resident Magistrate which have competent jurisdiction to try the same.
The court concluded that a cause of action arises when facts on which liability is founded exist of which there were none in this instance. Thus the suit was rejected.
The plaintiff brought the suit against the defendant claiming for damages for defamation. The plaintiff was the defendant’s employee and resigned to advance her studies. However, upon her resignation, the defendant bank placed an advertisement in the Newspaper by which they notified the public that the plaintiff was no longer an employee of the defendant and thus whoever deals with her on matters regarding the defendant bank does so at his/her own risk.As a result of the said publication the plaintiff sued the defendant for libel.The defendant denied the claim and contended that the said advertisement was done in good faith and it was true/justifiable since the plaintiff was no longer working for the defendant.
The plaintiff brought the suit against the defendants seeking damages for defamation. The plaintiff contended that in an article of the Sunday Vision, the publication stated that the plaintiff was a ghost headmaster i.e. he was drawing a salary when he ought not to have been doing so. The defendants denied liability. They contended that the words were not defamatory, and, in the alternative, that the publication was privileged, and a fair comment free of malice.
The plaintiff sued the defendant for defamation by libel.
This is a suit for defamation. The defendant ran a story about diabetic men being more prone to impotence with a full size photo of the plaintiff.
The plaintiff claims that the story was understood to mean by innuendo or otherwise that the plaintiff is overweight, obese and impotent. The defendant denied liability and admitted the publication, contended that it was not defamatory, was true in fact and was a fair comment.
The Plaintiff instituted this suit against both
defendants seeking general damages arising out
of a libel and for unlawful and unfair dismissal.
Both defendants denied liability, contending that
the plaintiff was never defamed as alleged or at
all, and that they were justified in the action taken
against the plaintiff. Defendants asserted that the
publication the subject of the suit, was factual, not
malicious and was within their right to publish.
The issues framed were:-
1. Whether the relationship between the
plaintiff and defendant amounted to a
contract of employment.
2. Whether the plaintiff as a freelance
reporter was an employee of the
3. Whether the discontinuation of the
plaintiff’s services by the defendants
amounted to lawful termination of the
working relationship between the plaintiff
4. Whether the Notice, Exhibit P1, is
defamatory of the plaintiff.
5. What are the remedies available to the
On 31.01.07, the defendants published of the
plaintiff, in The New Vision newspaper, his
photograph and, under it in broad print, the
“NOTICE The above named person Mr.
Hillary Kiirya is no longer a free-lance
Journalist for The New Vision. He is not
authorized to represent The New Vision
in any way or transact any business on
behalf of the company. Whoever deals
with him on matters relating to The New
Vision does so at his/her own risk.
The New Vision: Uganda’s leading
This court having appreciated the nature of the
law and the facts of this case finds that the
relationship that existed between the plaintiff and
the defendants is one that was for services and
not of services. The plaintiff offered his services,
as a freelance journalist, of searching for,
preparing and writing newsworthy articles which
he would submit to the defendants.
The answer to the second issue therefore was
that, as a freelance reporter, the plaintiff sold his
services and his articles to the defendants,
amongst others, by way of earning a living. His
relationship with the defendants was not under an
employment contract of services.
The third issue was, whether the discontinuation
of the plaintiff’s services by the defendants,
amounted to, lawful termination of the working
relationship, between the plaintiff and defendants.
It is not denied by the defendants that a working
relationship existed between the plaintiff and The
New Vision newspaper establishment. The
plaintiff was accredited by the newspaper as one
of its freelance reporters. He was issued with an
identity card to that effect. So the public, and
other third parties, dealt with the plaintiff on the
basis that, he was a freelance journalist,
accredited to The New Vision newspaper. By
reason of the relationship, plaintiff had access,
even though at his cost, to the use of the
defendants’ premises and the already stated
Plaint unproved as against the Defendant and the Plaintiff’s plaint is dismissed accordingly with costs to the Defendant.
Judgment is entered in favour of the Plaintiff in the sum of RUPEES TWO HUNDRED THOUSAND [Rs 200,000] together with interest thereon and Costs of the action.
Defamation: the test for truth and fair comment in a defamation claim; damages; the appropriate amount for damages to be awarded where the claim was made against someone in a public office should not have a chilling effect on criticism against acts of persons while in public office.
Tort law: Defamation : newspaper article concerning politicall figure : whether defence of fair comment sustainable.
In this case, the plaintiff brought an action in defamation against the defendant, as a result of a letter written by the defendant.
The plaintiff was the assistant headmaster of the school. The letter containing the allegations was wrote and copies sent to the District Education officer, Masaka and to the Chairman Parents Committee.
The defendant admitted the writing and publication, and pleaded qualified privilege to the charges.
The issues that were raised were, whether the letter was defamatory. Whether qualified privileged applied, and whether the plaintiff suffered damage as a result.
In this case, an appeal was filed against the decision of the trail magistrate on grounds that the court erred in law to hear the case after rejecting the appellant’s application for rejecting the plaint which did not disclose any cause of action.
The appellant further contended that the words did not have a defamatory meaning.
The plaintiff's claim against the defendants jointly and severally is for general damages for unlawful suspension from duty and defamation, interest and costs. On or about 04 July 2012 the first defendant reported a case to Arua Central Police Station by which he accused the plaintiff and three other priests in the Diocese of having hatched a plan to assassinate him. Amidst subsequent arrangements for the amicable resolution of the dispute, the plaintiff was surprised when on 22 August 2014 he was suspended from exercising his priestly ministry. He has since then been denied support and sustenance by the second defendant. He contends that the suspension is unlawful and the contents of the letter of suspension are defamatory of him. He prayed for judgement to be entered in his favour against the defendants.
This was an appeal from dismissal of an appeal to the Court of Appeal. The grounds of the appeal were that the Justices of Appeal erred in holding the appellant had not proved the sting and the defense of justification, and that they erred in awarding damages to the respondent.
The appellant argued that the court imposed on him the burden of proving theft and justification as if the case was criminal. The appellant further submitted that the arrest of the respondent and other people he dealt with was evidence that he stole the items, which the court failed to consider.
Counsel for the respondent submitted that there was no evidence of his attendance and participation in the theft, neither had he been arrested. Thus, he argued that the Justices of Appeal had properly decided the matter.