Uganda: Judge Throws Out Lukwago Case, Ordered to Pay Musisi Shs50m

Kampala — Kampala Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago has lost a bid to block an order requiring him to pay close to Shs50 million to former Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) executive director, Ms Jennifer Musisi.

The money is in claims of legal costs Ms Musisi incurred to prosecute a case in which Mr Lukwago sued her in person.

High Court Judge, Justice Andrew Bashaija, on Friday dismissed, with costs, Mr Lukwago application in which he sought to halt the pay order. Instead, he asked to grant him an order to reinstate his appeal against the taxed Bill of costs issued in 2012.

Justice Bashaija ruled that it was incumbent upon Mr Lukwago to move court to clarify on its order if he felt it was not specific or unclear.

The dismissal of Mr Lukwago's application followed preliminary objections raised by Ms Musisi through her lawyers Kasirye, Byaruhanga and Co Advocates, in which they argued that the move by Mr Lukwago to have a dismissed appeal reinstated amounted to abuse of court process.

In July 2012, Mr Lukwago was ordered to pay legal costs incurred by Ms Musisi in a power struggle case which was dismissed.

Mr Denis Sembuya, one of the lawyers representing Ms Musisi, argued that reinstating a dismissed appeal delays in prosecution of cases.

Records indicate that in April 2017, Justice Stephen Musota dismissed Mr Lukwago's taxation appeal filed in August 2014, citing inordinate delay and abuse of court process.

Mr Sembuya claims the dismissal of the appeal gave rise to a decree which was final and ought to have been appealed against as of right but Mr Lukwago did not appeal.

Justice Bashaija ruled that an order of dismissal of a case on account of being an abuse of court process invariably has the effect of stifling any further proceedings in the case before the same court.

"The dismissal order under such circumstances constitutes a final decree which can only be appealable as of right, but cannot be litigated over again before the same court that dismissed it," the judge ruled.

He also dismissed an argument in which Mr Lukwago, through his lawyers, had stated that the court based on a non-existent law to dismiss his taxation appeal.

"Though court may invoke its inherent powers to establish to accomplish the ends of justice, its inherent powers do not extend to authorising it to set aside or override substantive provisions of law.

"Provisions of the law as to the inherent powers of court do not give any court authority to disregard or override specific provisions of an Act and Rules of Procedure, especially those couched in mandatory terms," Justice Bashaija ruled.

The court reasoned that where a case in a court of law has been dismissed as being an abuse of court process, it would be absurd and rather futile to attempt to resurrect it before the same court that condemned it as such in the first place.

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