5 December 2012

Uganda: Motorists Lose City Street Parking Case

Kampala city motorists will have to continue paying street parking fees after the High Court in Kampala ruled in favour of Multiplex Limited charged with collecting the fees.

In the ruling of Justice Elizabeth Musoke, delivered Wednesday morning by the Court's civil division registrar, Eudes Keitirima, she stated that under the circumstances premised on the principal-agent relationship between Kampala Capital City Authority(KCCA) and Multiplex, the suit could not be maintained.

She said the company was wrongly sued, since it is acting as an agent of the principal KCCA.

The plaintiffs were also ordered to pay costs to Multiplex. However, the amount is not yet definite, since Multiplex will have to file its bill of costs.

"It is therefore apparent that whatever the agent(Multiplex) did or continues to do in relation to street parking, it does so as the appointed agent of KCCA.

The principal in the stated case has not stated that the agent acted outside the Authority granted by the principal," the judge stated.

The case arose this year on May 16 when regional consulting firm Legal Brains Trust(LBT) and Richard Nyakaana petitioned court, contending that KCCA) and its predecessors, have never designated parts of roads and streets identified as parking places in the city within the parking and motor vehicle regulations.

In February 2003, KCCA's predecessor Kampala City Council, awarded Multiplex a contract to manage city street parking. The company charges sh7,000 for daily parking from 8am to 5pm, while a monthly sticker costs sh42,000.

They contended that car parking fees, parking fines, clamping fees, is unlawful and an infringement of their right to property. They wanted court to declare that they are entitled to a refund of the revenue collected by Multiplex since 2003 when the company commenced operations.

Supported by the affidavit of LBT executive director Isaac Kimaze, also a lawyer, he contended that Multiplex which was preceded by Green Boat Entertainment on March 15, 2003, is harsh and that he has fallen victim to its purported highhandedness.

Ssemakadde claims he has been compelled on numerous occasions to pay the contentious fees.

The judge's ruling was prompted by a preliminary objection raised by Multiplex lawyer Andrew Kibaya who on October 10, submitted that the suit was defective, since the wrong party was sued.

Kibaya further stated that where an agent concludes the contract of the principal, it is the principal to be sued, and not the agent. He stressed that KCCA should have been part of the suit, since the issues raised by the complainants, cast a spotlight on the activities of KCCA.

But on October 19, the motorists lawyer Terence Kavuma dismissed Multiplex's assertion that it was wrongfully sued. He said Multiplex cannot absolve itself of wrongdoing by claiming to be an agent of a principal, KCCA.

Kavuma asserted that KCCA did not authorise the purported wrongful acts complained of.

Speaking to New Vision, Kimaze said they would petition the Court of Appeal to express dissatisfaction with court's decision. He said agents who are found in wrong, and claim to be acting on behalf of principals, breed impunity.

"With due respect to the judge, we disagree with the ruling. Agency does not amount to immunity from legal proceedings," Kimaze said.

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