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 issue was whether the trial court had jurisdiction to hear a petition for winding up and whether the respondent had required authorization to petition for winding up.
The appeal emanated from the dismissal of the appellant’s objection to a petition for winding up the appellant company. The appellant argued that the trial court had no jurisdiction to decide on the matter. It pointed out that only the English courts had exclusive jurisdiction to decide on any dispute between the parties. Moreover, the appellant challenged the legal personality of the respondent arguing that they did not provide original certificates of incorporation and that the respondent did not receive authority of shareholders to petition for the winding up.
The respondent opposed the appeal on the grounds that the English courts had exclusive jurisdiction only on disputes and not on a petition for winding up. It further argued that it required a trail to verify the authenticity of the certificate of incorporation. Lastly the respondent pointed out that since they were duly incorporated, they were authorized to work on behalf of the shareholders.
The court in dismissed the first two points raised by appellant. The court held that the English court’s exclusive jurisdiction did not extend to petitions and that documents attached to an affidavit in an interlocutory application should not be used as an objection to the issue of admissibility. However the court ruled that the respondent required the approval of directors and shareholders to file a petition to wind up. Thus the appeal was upheld.
The court considered whether the failure to omit the court name in a notice of motion and error in arrangement of parties invalidated the application.
The court held that a notice of appeal is the foundation and any defect to it renders the whole appeal incompetent. In that regard, to validly invoke the jurisdiction of a Court of Appeal, it must be shown that the decision appealed against arose from the courts listed in s 240 of the Constitution.
The court found that the particulars of the claim did not invoke the jurisdiction of the court of appeal which is a material defect. Moreso, cannot be cured by an amendment. Therefore, the court was not able to grant the reliefs claimed.
The court accordingly dismissed the application.
The court considered whether the State High Court had jurisdiction to entertain a matter about mines and minerals.
The court held that according to s 251(1)(n) of the Constitution as amended, the Federal High Court had jurisdiction about mining operations.
The court found that the statement of claim showed that the cause of action accrued in 1996; therefore, the law that was in existence at that time is applicable. Further, the court found that the construction, operation and maintenance of an oil pipeline by a holder of oil prospecting license is an act of mining operations. The facts of the case therefore fell within s 230(1)(0) of the 1979 Constitution. The trial court lacked jurisdiction.
The court accordingly upheld the appeal.
The appellants appealed a judgment granting the respondent payment of a sum of money in terms of an indemnity agreement between the parties.
There were four issues for determination in the main appeal: whether the lower court had jurisdiction to hear the matter; whether the personal indemnity form did not constitute a contract between second appellant and first respondent to make second appellant personally liable to indemnify first respondent; whether the deposit of the second appellant’s title deeds with the first respondent was in furtherance of the personal indemnity form; and whether the judgment was against the weight of evidence.
As regards the first ground of appeal, the court found that the lower court was vested with the jurisdiction to hear the matter, as stated in the Insurance Act, 2003. The second ground was resolved in favour of the first respondent as the indemnity form was held to be a contract with the main aim of making the second appellant personally liable to indemnify the first respondent. Issue 3 was found in favour of the first respondent as the words of the document were found to have created an equitable mortgage over the second appellant’s property, using it as collateral to secure the counter indemnity granted by the first respondent on behalf of the second appellant. The fourth issue was resolved in favour of the first respondent, and the appeal was held to be lacking in substance and merit. The appeal was dismissed.
The case was an application seeking to revive a consent judgment set aside by the registrar of the court.
The dispute emanated from an application by the respondent seeking an order to nullify registration of property in the name of the defendants (who are now applicants). The order was granted under an ex parte application because the respondents failed to respond to the suit. The respondents tried without success to appeal the judgment.
The respondents then filed a notice of appeal to the Appeal Court seeking to appeal against the order of the High Court dismissing the application. They also requested an interim order for stay of execution. The applicant (who is now the respondent) objected to the appeal arguing that it was late which was confirmed by the registrar. The respondents referred the matter to a single judge and pending the determination by the judge, the parties entered into a consent judgment which was endorsed by the registrar. The registrar later set aside the consent judgment which the applicants are now seeking to revive.
In deciding the case, the court held that there was no appeal before the single judge because the applicants filed the appeal late. The court ruled that the registrar has no jurisdiction to hear and dispose an appeal. It found that the registrar erred when he entered a consent judgment on a matter which was on appeal before a court. It further ruled that the consent judgment was null and void thus it cannot be revived.
The matter dealt with an application for foreclosure and sale of mortgaged property as a result of failure to make loan repayments by defendant.
The main issue was whether the plaintiff could exercise its right to foreclose the property. The court cited s 8(1) of the Mortgage Act that allows one to redeem the property at any time of breach and or to get a court order effecting the redemption. Reference to How v Vigures was also made regarding the triggers for foreclosure proceedings as being when due payment has not been made on date for redemption (default) or when there is a breach of any terms of the mortgage.
The court established that as the defendant had not complied with the terms of the credit facility agreement by not paying the agreed monthly instalments for a period of two years despite repeated demands, the exercise of the right to foreclosure was held to be fit and proper.
The court therefore concluded that the plaintiff could exercise the right to foreclose and accordingly allowed the application.
A dispute arose between the appellant and the respondent regarding the amount payable for extra costs incurred during the delivery of goods by sea. The case was first heard by the high court, then the magistrates court where it was dismissed based on jurisdiction.
The court had to consider whether Ugandan courts had jurisdiction to hear the matter and whether the magistrate erred in law and fact when he dismissed the appellant’s counterclaim before hearing it.
It was held that Ugandan courts had jurisdiction to try the matter and that the magistrate erred in law and fact when he dismissed the appellant’s counterclaim without hearing it.
With reliance on the bill of lading, legislation and past cases, the court was of the view that the parties had voluntarily submitted themselves to the jurisdiction of Ugandan courts. In addition, the court stated that the Ugandan courts were readily available to adjudicate on the matter and it was convenient to bring the matter before Ugandan courts. Furthermore, the court issued that the magistrate ought to have considered the Constitution and civil procedure rules prior to dismissing the appellant’s counterclaim without hearing the merits.
The court ordered a new trial in the magistrate’s court. The appeal was allowed, and costs were awarded in favour of the appellant.
The appellant was dissatisfied with the
decision and orders of the court of appeal
hence this appeal on the grounds of the right of
appeal from the orders under arbitration and
conciliation, reliance on the commission of
inquiry report, decision to set aside the
decision of the high court.
The background is that the appellant had a
contract to construct an annex to the existing
Mbale Resort. The construction wasn’t
complete and the matter was referred to
arbitration and several orders and awards were
made. The arbitral award was contested and at
appeal, an objection on a point of law was
raised that there was no right of appeal as the
award arose out of arbitration.
The defendants applied for credit facilities to obtain steel products from the plaintiff. The second and third defendants stood surety. The plaintiff contended that the defendants refused to pay for the steel products. The proceedings were for breach of contract, and special and general damages. The defendants denied concluding the contract, and argued the matter ought to be heard in South Africa.
The issues for determination were whether the court lacked jurisdiction; whether there was a contract between the parties; whether the defendants breached the contract; and whether second and third defendants were liable.
On the issue of jurisdiction, the court considered the agreement. It was clear that the parties consented to the jurisdiction of the High Court of South Africa, however the court held that the Constitution and Judicature Act provided it with unlimited original jurisdiction in all matters. Even when parties had an exclusive jurisdiction agreement, the High Court of Uganda still had jurisdiction to hear and determine the matter before it.
Regarding the existence of the contract, the law required the plaintiff to prove the documents were signed by the second and third defendants. The court found that the plaintiff proved it entered into a valid contract with the defendants.
Whether the defendants breached the contract, the court held that the first defendant breached the contract by failing to pay for the goods, and that the second and third defendants were liable as sureties.
Plaintiff was awarded special and general damages.
This is an application to annul the consent order that was executed between the respondents and the cancellation of the third respondent’s title. The appeal was issued by the registrar against the decision of a judge who dismissed an application by the first respondent against the second and third respondents. The appeal is premised on grounds that the registrar had no jurisdiction not issue the orders and the consent is illegal.
The appellant appealed against a taxing officer’s order awarding the second respondent costs of 1, 900, 739/= contending that the instruction fee awarded was based on an incorrect value of the suit. The respondents’ counsel raised preliminary objections inter alia that couldn’t be permitted to raise a new point of law that was not argued in the lower court.
The respondent sued the appellant for general damages and restoration of the value of certain of its properties, arising from their sale at a public auction, prompted by a warrant of distress issued under the Income Tax Act. The High Court found that the respondent bore no tax liability to the appellant at the time the warrant was issued, and consequently that the vehicles were unlawfully distrained and sold, before making an award of damages, interest and costs of suit in the respondent’s favour.
On appeal, the tax authority successfully challenged the High Court decision on the grounds of jurisdiction. It contended that the relevant tax legislation (primarily the Income Tax Act, 1973) had established fora to preside over tax disputes at the first instance. As the respondent had failed to exhaust these internal statutory remedies before launching court proceedings, the High Court lacked jurisdiction to hear and determine the matter. The court had ousted the jurisdiction of the specialised fora designed for that very purpose.
Reiterating that jurisdiction may be raised by the parties or suo moto (by the court itself) at any stage of proceedings – even on appeal – the appellate court quashed and set aside the High Court’s decision and upheld the appeal.
The plaintiffs instituted a land suit against the defendant praying the court declare that the defendant wrongly demolished the Madrassa building without any authority or order from the authorities. On the other side the defendant filed a written statement of defence stating that the suit was bad in law and ought to be dismissed, for lack of a paragraph invoking the court’s original jurisdiction, contrary to a requirement in law. Additionally, the defendant stated that the monetary claim pleaded was based on general damages and the court had no jurisdiction to entertain the suit.
The main issue determined by the court was whether the court had pecuniary jurisdiction to entertain the suit.
The court held that it was a mandatory requirement under Order VII Rule 1 (j) of the Civil Procedure Code that a plaint should contain a statement on the monetary value of the subject matter. This was not only for the purposes of determining courts' pecuniary jurisdiction, but also for assessing the court fees. Therefore, the failure by the plaintiffs to indicate in the plaint a statement of the value of the subject matter of the suit had an effect on both the jurisdiction and the court fees.
To conclude the court held that it had no jurisdiction and thus had no need to proceed on and to deliberate on other points of the preliminary objection as its hands were tied.
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.
This was an application for a revision in respect of execution proceedings and a garnishee order.
The respondent raised preliminary objections: that the court lacked jurisdiction to determine the revision; that the court has not been moved and that the application was bad for not being accompanied with the order sought to be revised.
The court dismissed the final objection since there is no legal requirement for the same.
The court determined that it had jurisdiction, by applying the rule that all revisions of a civil nature in a resident magistrate court shall lie to the high court. The court interpreted this provision to include execution proceedings from resident magistrate courts.
In determining the second objection, the court observed that the applicant had cited non-existent legislation by referring to the Magistrates’ Court Act as the Resident Magistrates Court Act. It applied the rule that when an applicant cites the wrong provision the matter becomes incompetent since the court is not properly moved, to hold that it had not been moved. The court also considered that the applicant wrongly cited s 79 of the Civil Procedure Code. In doing so, it appreciated the difference on revision that may be undertaken per s 79 of the Civil Procedure Code and per ss 43 and 44 of the Magistrates Court Act: s 79 referred to finalized cases while the rest refer to any civil proceedings.
Accordingly, the application was struck out with an order as to costs in favor of the respondent.
The issue was whether the defendant breached a lease agreement. The dispute emanated from a lease agreement between the plaintiff and the defendant. Under the lease, the defendant was supposed to allocate four rooms and a corridor to the plaintiff. The plaintiff alleged that he was only allocated two rooms instead of the agreed four. He claimed damages for loss of business and general damages for loss suffered as a result of using two rooms. The defendant on the other hand argued that it allocated the four rooms to the plaintiff and that the plaintiff was the one who breached the lease agreement by not paying rent. It pointed out that the two rooms are still available and are vacant.
In deciding the matter, the court held that the defendant was in breach of contract. On damages, it dismissed the claim for special damages on loss of business opportunities pointing out that there was no evidence to support the loss. It however warded general damages of one hundred million shillings and interest of ten percent per year.
Two distinct, but related cases are of relevance in showing the genesis of this application.
The first relates to the respondent seeking to enforce a contract of works. The second relates to the applicant’s claim to enforce an agreement to arbitrate (as per the contract agreement). In this application before the High Court, the applicant sought to have the former case stayed, pending the final determination of the latter.
The applicant claimed that he sought the order to stay the suit as there was an agreement to arbitrate; proceeding with the respondent’s claim would be nugatory. The respondent resisted this application on the basis of procedural correctness.
This court determined that the issue was to verify whether this court had jurisdiction to entertain an application for stay of the respondent’s case, in view of the notice of appeal that was instituted by the applicant.
It was held that this court lacks jurisdiction over the latter case; it is the Court of Appeal which holds jurisdiction. Therefore, the matter was dismissed in its entirety.
The main case was whether the issue before this court was directly and substantially in issue with a matter pending in the court below.
The respondent threatened the applicant to cease any operations and vacate a Lake Natron game controlled area it currently occupies (‘the hunting block’). The applicant filed this application, seeking this court to issue an interim order restraining the respondents from evicting them at the hunting block.
The respondent claimed that this court does not have the jurisdiction to entertain this matter as it was res sub judice, and thus should be dismissed. The reason lodged was that the issue in this matter was directly and substantially related to the pending appeal. The applicant argued against these claims and contended that in the pending appeal, he was challenging different issues in relation to this application.
This court applied s 8 of the Civil Procedure Code in determining that the facts and circumstances of this application where identical with the pending matter below, and as such res sub judice.
This application was stayed pending the outcome of the appeal in the court below.
This case dealt with emolument attachment orders (EAO) that had been obtained through written consent by the applicants. The applicants were a group of low-income earners and vulnerable occupants that only had their salaries and wages as a means to survival. The issue was that the EAOs were from jurisdictions far from where the applicants resided. This case pinpoints the importance of issuing EAOs that are just and equitable, by focusing on the processes that the respondents had followed to secure repayment of loans. This case also illustrates the duty to protect citizens against human rights abuses by business enterprises by having effective remedies that protect victims.
The court considered whether the respondents’ conduct fell within the scope of section 65J(1)(a) of the Magistrates’ Court Act which allows an attachment on a debtor’s earnings and obliges his or her employer to pay out of such earnings specific instalments in favour of the creditor. The court held that section 45 of the Magistrates’ Court Act provides that parties may consent to the jurisdiction of a court that does not have jurisdiction
The Court held that section 65(J)(1)(a) of the Magistrates’ Court Act had failed to provide a statutory limit on the EAOs which may be granted against a judgment debtor.
The Court found that the respondents had denied the applicants their constitutional right to approach the courts by obtaining judgments and EAOs in courts that were far from the applicants’ workplaces and homes. The court held that the respondents’ actions were a result of them forum shopping for courts which entertained their applications. The court held that in this case where the applicants had admitted liability for the debts and had consented to the EAOs, section 45 of the Magistrates’ Court Act did not permit that the applicants could consent to the jurisdiction of a court outside their district. Thus, the court found that the EAOs were in fact not just and equitable considering the statuses of the applicants.
Accordingly, the court upheld the applicants’ complaint and held that the EAOs were in breach of section 65(J)(1)(a) of the Magistrates’ Court Act.