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 is an appeal of the decision of the trial court that found the assignment of the respondent’s debt to the Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) as being illegal, unlawful and negligent in law.
The court determined the first issue: whether the trial court erred in its interpretation of the AMCON Act in relation to assignment of the debt and finding that the assignment was illegal, unlawful and negligent in law. The court held that the provisions relied on in the AMCON Act were clear and its only duty was interpreting the provisions according to their literal meaning not varying them. It was held that the trial court erred in its determination thereof. With respect to the other issues, the court held that the resolution of the first issue disposed the appeal making the other issues irrelevant. Accordingly, the appeal was allowed and the judgment of the trial court was set aside with costs in favour of the appellant.
The issue was whether a claimant is allowed by court rules to file witness statements and other documents in reply to a defendant’s defense to a claim.
The dispute emanated from a lower court’s decision to strike out the appellant’s reply to the respondents’ defense. The reply was struck out on the basis that it contained a written statement on oath and documents which was regarded as an amendment of the pleadings.
The appellant was challenging the decision to strike out on the grounds that the court rules impliedly provides for further documents and statements in reply to a defendants’ defense. On the other hand, the respondents opposed the appeal on the ground that the court rules do not provide for a reply to be accompanied with a witness statement and any other document.
In deciding the matter, the court held that order 18 of the High Court rules which deals with a reply to a statement of defense does not require that any document or statement shall be accompany such reply. It further ruled that where the words in a statute are clear and unambiguous, they ought to be accorded their simple grammatical interpretation. The appeal was thus dismissed.
Appeal against the judgment in favour of the respondent for arrear rent with costs. The appeal was brought on two grounds: the lower court erred by ordering the rent payable in British Pounds (GBP); and the trial court erred in holding that the burden of proving non-payment of the rent in GBP rested on the appellant.
The first issue concerned the interpretation and applicability of the Decimal Currency Act (the act) on the mode of payment of the rent, which was fixed by the Deed of lease. Applying literal interpretation, the court concluded that section 1(2) of the Act related only to contracts entered into in Nigerian Pounds. It was not the legislature’s intention to constrict contractors from deciding the terms and manner of payment. Parties to a contract are bound by its terms and conditions, and a court will respect the contract.
Issue two as to who bore the onus of proving the currency of payment post-Decimal Currency Act, was decided in favour of the respondent. The burden of proof generally lies with the plaintiff to establish their case, however this burden is not static. The respondent adduced evidence of non-payment of rent, the burden shifted to the appellant to adduce evidence rebutting this, and in proof of the assertion that regular payments of rent were made. The appellant failed to produce evidence that payment was made, and that it was done in Naira and not GBP.
The appeal was dismissed.
The matter involved a dispute concerning the nature and validity of the transaction between the defendant, a government-owned limited liability company, and Karpower. The matter revolved around the interpretation given to the phrase ‘international transaction’ in article 181 of the Constitution, a phrase whose effect is that the transaction required parliamentary approval.
The first question that faced the court concerned jurisdiction. The court relied on ample case law to arrive at the position that the Supreme Court is not a clearing house to assume jurisdiction which otherwise belongs to other lower courts. It noted that jurisdiction would only be exercised where it is manifestly clear and obvious that the cases are deserving.
Substantively, the court then had to consider the legal nature of the defendants in order to ascertain whether they were the alter ego of the government. After scrutinising the relevant transactions, the court reasoned that it was clear that the defendants, as juristic persons, had the capacity to enter into the transactions they entered into with the relevant institutions without seeking parliamentary approval as stipulated in article 181 (5) of the Constitution.
The court concluded that given the established interpretation of ‘international transaction’ and the legal nature of the defendants, the nature of transaction between the first defendants and Karpowership does not constitute an international business transaction with a government. It therefore did not require compliance with article 181 (5) of the Constitution.
The court dismissed the application.
The matter involves an application brought by judicial service staff’s union (plaintiff) over a dispute about their pension scheme and benefits.
First the court had to determine whether the phrase ‘all persons serving in the Judiciary’ applies in exclusion of non-bench judicial service staff and whether the plaintiff’s members were constitutionally subjected to the CAP 30 pension scheme or the SSNIT scheme. First, it established the consistent meaning of ‘judiciary’ in the constitution as that body that exercises judicial power and administers justice. The constitutional definition of judiciary therefore did not include non-bench judicial staff. The effect thus is that the plaintiff’s members were not placed under the CAP 30 pension scheme since they did not belong to the constitutionally-delineated class constituting the Judiciary. It should be noted, however, a dissenting opinion took on a more expansive approach that included the non-bench staff. Nevertheless, the court concluded the placing of the plaintiff’s members on the SSNIT scheme was not wrongful or in constitutional violation.
On the questions of discrimination, the court reasoned that as employment matters are purely contractual, the conduct of differential treatment in employment conditions did not amount to discrimination. It did, however, in holding for the plaintiff, decry the inconsistencies with best practices in remuneration management and constitutional procedures.
The court also held for the plaintiff by finding that the President could not delegate his function under arts 149 and 158(2) as this would be unconstitutional. Further, it also found ss 213(1)(a) and 220 of Act 766 to be unconstitutional to the extend it conflicts with constitutional provisions.
The appellants sought to appeal the judgement of the appellate court which held that there was a legal and valid writ of execution in respect of the immovable property offered as security for the facilities provided by the respondent.
The court had to consider whether the writ of execution was legal and valid, and whether the writ was for movable or immovable property.
The court held that the writ was legal and valid and that the writ of execution was for the immovable property offered as security to the respondent.
With reliance on the procedural rules relating to the writ of execution, the court issued that a writ is executed upon the attachment of the property and not after the sale of property. The court also pointed out that when examining the rules, the court pointed out that one should adopt a purposive interpretation as a opposed to a literal interpretation because the latter will lead to an ambiguous or unjust result. The court stated that the appellant’s second ground was based on repealed law, thus it has no foundation in law.
Accordingly, the court dismissed the appeal.
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.
Two applications where lodged by both parties. The first application sought the rejection of a lodged case on the ground that the defendant in the suit, described as ‘the board,’ was a non-existing person, with no capacity to sue or be sued. Immediately thereafter, the applicant lodged the second application where he sought leave to amend the initial suit by adding a Pastor Kayanja as a party to the suit, in addition to the board.
In its judgement this court held that the board did not exist in law. The application to add Kayanja was held to be an attempt to substitute a non-existing defendant and thus in reality there was no valid plaint in the suit. The reason being that a suit in the names of a wrong plaintiff or defendant cannot be cured by amendment (as the applicant attempted to).
Hence, the first application succeeded, and the second application was dismissed.
The applicant instituted a civil suit against the respondent in 2013 in a lower court. This suit was in relation to a consulting and ICT support services fees provided by the applicant for the respondent. With the applicant having not taken any step to prosecute the matter since 2013, the respondent applied to have the suit dismissed for want of prosecution. The court accordingly dismissed the suit.
In this court, the applicant sought an order to reinstate this civil suit and set aside the dismissal. The respondent contended that the applicant’s failure to take steps to prosecute the suit against the respondent for over three years, was justification for dismissal of want of prosecution. Furthermore, the applicant had not shown any justification for failure to take these requisite steps.
The respondent thus claimed that this application would prejudice him as he had been burdened by the suit since 2013.
This court held that the reinstatement of this civil suit would indeed prejudice the respondent. The application was dismissed on the grounds that it defeats the defence of limitation (as the claim or suit proceeded out of time) available to the respondent.
This was a second appeal by the appellant
against the decision of the Court of Appeal
which ruled that terminal benefits paid to the
respondents were not taxable under Section 19
of the Income Tax Act. The background is that
the respondents were retrenched and awarded
terminal benefits for which they sought from
the appellant the tax due. The appellant
reviewed and presented a sum that was
contested by the respondents and the high court
ruled that the amount given to the former
employees was akin to gratuity which was tax
exempt. The court of appeal agreed with the
trial court hence this appeal.
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.