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 appellant contended that the respondent had wrongly rejected the deductibility of bad debts which the appellant believed warranted to be written off.
The appeal centred on the identification and interpretation of provisions governing losses arising from bad debts which are deductable for income tax purposes.
The court reiterated that it was bound to apply plain language of a statute to give effect to the intention of the legislature. It went on to state that statutes are to be read as a whole in context, and, if possible the court is to give effect to every word of the statute.
The intention of the legislature was to devote the area of the provisions of the Income Tax Act, 2004 (ITA) covering sections 20 to 26 for purpose of providing guidance to tax payers like the appellant. In other words section 25(4) and 25(5) (a) of the ITA shows one gets the impression that in the preparations of its tax accounts to be assessed by the respondent, the appellant was given the opportunity to indicate therein, what debt claim had in the appellant's accounting, become a bad debt ripe for deduction by the respondent.
The court pointed out that the appellant did not discharge its evidential burden to prove that it complied with any one of the two options the appellant claimed to have complied with under section 25 (5) (a) of the ITA.
It was for the above mentioned reasons that the appeal was dismissed.
The first issue was whether the appellate court erred in law and in fact to conclude that the respondent could not be sued. The court observed a difference in the extent of immunity accorded in the domestic act and that granted in the Eastern and Southern African Trade and Development Bank Charter of the Preferential Trade Area (PTA) for Eastern and Southern African States (the charter) and Eastern and Southern African Trade and Development Bank Act (the act), with the charter providing for absolute immunity whilst the act offered functional immunity. It reasoned that the intention of the act is to govern the relationship between Uganda and the respondent. Applying the ejusdem generis rule (that a general term describing a list of specific terms denotes other things that are like the specific elements) to interpret the objectives of the act, the court concluded that immunity was not intended to extend to third party relationships as these are not covered by the functionality principle underpinning the act. The court held the appellate court erred in its finding and instead concluded against immunity.
The second question was whether it was a procedural requirement to obtain a waiver before instituting suit against the respondent. Reiterating the functionality basis of the respondent’s immunity and the fact that it did not extent to suits from third parties for contractual breach, the court reasoned that the waiver requirement was inapplicable and unnecessary. It thus concluded that there was no need to obtain a waiver before commencing suit and allowed the appeal.