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Published: Fri, 02 Feb 2018

The republic of uganda


Uganda is located in East Africa. The country has attained independence on from British colonial rule on 9th October 1962. Before that, this country was governed by United Kingdom from 1894 to 1962. President Yoweri Kaguta Museyeni is their president at present that came into power through an arm struggle in 1986. Later on he was elected president at presidential election in 1996, 2001 and 2006.

  1. The Legal System:

English legal system and laws are predominant in Uganda as it was governed by England for a long time. The legal system is mainly on English common law and African customary law. But customary law will be effective when it does not conflict with statutory law. So the statutory law, common law, doctrines of equity and customary law are applicable in Ugandan legal system. All these laws are stipulated by their Judicature act.

The constitution is the superior law over all other laws in Uganda. No other law will be taken in consideration which conflict the constitution. Since its independence, Uganda has adopted three constitutions known as 1962 constitution, 1967 constitution and 1995 constitution. However a revise of constitution was done in 2005. The other written laws are available in the national Gazette.

In Uganda, the highest court is the Supreme Court of Uganda which is supported by high court and magistrate court. High court deals with murder, treason, rape and other crimes punishable by death or life imprisonment whereas magistrate court deals with crimes punishable by fines, whipping or shorter terms of imprisonment. There is an appeal division to appeal against these decisions. Enforcement of these laws are been looked after by the police council in Uganda.

  1. Sources Of Law

The legal system of Uganda is based on law derived from different sources. The sources are as-

  • Legislation
  • Delegated Legislation

  • Judicial Precedents
  • English Common Law

  • Customs
  • African customary law

  • Ecclesiastical Law or Religion

Legislation: These are the acts made by parliament of Uganda. The parliament of Uganda consists of 305 elected members. Whenever a legal proposal is accepted by the major share of the parliament member then it comes as statute and published in the national Gazette.

Delegated Legislation: Sometimes delegation of the power is given to subordinate bodies to make law. It is done at crisis or whenever it is required to save the time for parliament. Then laws are created through orders in council, statutory instruments, bye-laws, court rules, professional regulations.

Judicial Precedents: These are the law made by the courts of Uganda or the judges of courts in Uganda. Whenever a judge gives judgement to a case, later on it will be treated as the law next time for the similar cases. Thus their judgement becomes the source of law in Uganda.

English Common Law: Uganda was governed by United Kingdom for a long time. That time they practiced the English common law to maintain the legal system of their colony like Uganda. But though Uganda is independent now, they are still following the English Common Law. Thus it has become ca big source of law in Ugandan legal system.

Customs: People from different customs and ethnic origins living in Uganda. Most of them are from Bagabda, Bunyoro and Batoro ethnic groups who are from Bantus, Bushmen, Sudanese, Nile-Hamites, Asian and European minorities. The customs they are holding are taken into consideration in law making. Thus it has become a source of legal system in Uganda.

African customary law: Geographically Uganda has fallen in African continent. That’s why they have to follow African customary law in their legislation system. Thus it has become a source of law in Uganda.

Ecclesiastical Law or Religion: Muslims and Christians are living are living peacefully in Uganda for a long time. Both the religions are recognised by Ugandan constitution. The Christian community are the major group who left key effect in Ugandan legislation. On the other hand Ugandan constitution has recently made provision for Sharia law in article 129 to include Islamic courts. Thus Ecclesiastical Laws are keeping effect in Ugandan legislation.

  1. Court Structure

The court structure of Uganda is not so critical. The total judicial system of Uganda consists of four basic courts as- Supreme Court, Court of appeal, High court and Subordinate courts which include Magistrates courts, Local council courts, Courts of property inheritances and guardianship, marriage and divorce and different judicial tribunals. All these four basic courts come hierarchically which has been shown by the pyramid below-

Supreme Court

The Supreme Court is the highest court of Uganda. On the other way it can be said as the final court of appeal in Uganda. This court normally handles the cases on appeal that come from lower courts. The Supreme Court also deals with presidential election petitions where the distressed candidate can formally request the Supreme Court to access the presidential election.

The Supreme Court of Uganda is constituted by chief justice along with six or more than six justices. A full bench of seven justices are required at the time of hearing appeals from decisions of the Court of appeal though it takes normally five justices to hear most cases.

The Supreme Court takes into consideration the decisions of lower courts in its final decision taking.

Court Of Appeal

The court of appeal in Uganda is also said the constitutional court as it is based on the 1995 constitution of Uganda. It is placed between the Supreme Court and the High Court and handles the appellate jurisdiction over the high court and also helps to interpret the constitution.

The court of appeal will consist of the deputy chief justice and seven or more than seven justices according to the advice of the Parliament. Most of the solved cases solved in the court of appeal can be appealed again to the Supreme Court but it will be the final court in election petitions filed on and after Parliamentary election according to Local Government Act.

High Court

The high court is the third court of Uganda according to the hierarchy and has to perform the activities of five divisions as the Civil division, Criminal division, Commercial division, Family division and Circuit or land division. Appeals from different magistrate courts are supervised by the high court. Honourable Principal Judge is the key personnel at the high court and he has to administer it and supervise the magistrate courts.

Most of the task of the high court in Uganda is conducted at Kampala. Its other circuits are situated at Fort Portal, Gulu, Nakawa, Mbala, Jinja, Mbarara and Masaka where there is a plan to increase its number in near future.

Subordinate Courts

Magistrates Courts:

Magistrates Courts have to conduct huge number of criminal and civil cases in Uganda whereas it constructs with three levels as- Chief Magistrates, Magistrates Grade I and Magistrates Grade II. At present Uganda is divided into twenty six Chief Magisterial areas which are being administered by Chief Magistrates.

Local Council Courts:

These are also among the subordinate courts which are established under the Executive Committees Act. It basically deals with light civil matters in the area of jurisdiction under the local government act. This committee court also consists of three levels as- Sub county (level3), Parish (level2) and Village (level1).

d. Different Forms Of Business Allowed To Operate And The Laws Governing Them

The following business alternatives are available in Uganda, as-

Sole Trader:

A sole trade is an individual who do his business by his ownership. He is the 100% owner of his profits or losses. In Uganda everyone is free to do his business as a sole trader by his own responsibility.

Everyone should have to register their business. To register their business in Uganda they need the following things-

The business name, its general nature, the name, surname, nationality and usual place of residence of the owner. Then he can register his business with a minimal cost which is 100 U.S. dollar at present.


Two or more person will do the business in partnership business where the ownership ratio of each partner can be different. In Uganda, people follow the Partnership Act (Cap.86) in performing their partnership business. People of Uganda form this type of business basically for small, professional and family based business.


Two types of companies are found in Uganda. Such as-

  1. Private Limited Company
  2. Public Limited Company

Private Limited Company:

Private Limited Company is a legal entity that is different from the people who run it. It follows the Companies Act (Cap.85) and enjoys legal separate entity. It is needed to register the company and the following things are required to submit by the companies-

  1. Memorandum of association
  2. Articles of association

  3. Statement of nominal capital and
  4. A statutory declaration by the legal practitioners of the company

According to Ugandan Company Act, a private company must have at least two members and at least two directors and the formation cost is US$ 1000 plus 1% on nominal share capital.

Public Limited Company:

There should be minimum seven members or share holders to construct a public limited company where there is no maximum limit. But it is mandatory to have certificate to commence business in Uganda before starting it.

The formalities of Public Limited Company are almost similar like Private Limited Company with addition of the following documents, as-

  • A prospectus or statement
  • A statement with the names and particulars of all the directors and secretary signifying their consent to be such.

e. Dispute Resolution Procedures/ Options Available And Their Effectiveness

Disputes can happen in each and every country all over the world. Uganda is very active in their dispute resolution procedures. Some of the procedures to resolve the disputes used by Uganda are as-

  • Civil Courts:

If any dispute occurred which is a bit critical, then it will be sent to civil court to solve this case. The civil court follows the civil court act to solve the case comes to it.

  • Tribunals:

Tribunals deal with less critical cases than the civil courts. It is consisted of two to seven members selected by the authority. After their judgement they submit their report to the authority to take action against the guilty persons.

  • Arbitration:

It follows the arbitration act 1996. Later on in May 2000 Uganda introduced the Arbitration and Conciliation Act 2000 which is the extended version of the previous one. Thus they are using their amendment act of 2000 in their arbitration to solve the disputes.

  • Mediation and Reconciliation:

In case of family disputes and less critical disputes people of Uganda prefer most the way of mediation and reconciliation among the rivals. This is the easiest way to solve the disputes in local area. It is presided over by the renounced experienced honourable person of that area.

f. Laws Relating To-

  • Copy Right:

Copyright is the executive right of the author or owner or inventor to an intellectual property to sell, change or gaining benefit from it. Copyright law makes provision for copyright of artistic works, literary, recordings, cinematographs etc connected with these. In Uganda the Copyright Act 1996 is followed very strictly. Copyright Act 1996 was passed by the Ugandan Parliament and it started its operation in full swing from 1997.

  • Trademarks:

Trademark can be any sign, symbol, logo etc used to distinguish products or services from others. In this regard people follow the trade mark act relating to the registration of Trademarks. It is based on the appointment of a Registrar of Trade Marks (section 3) and the keeping of a registrar of trademarks (section4)

  • Patents:

Patent is the right of inventor to stop other from making, using or selling his invention without his permission. In Uganda the statute provides the grants, registration and protection of patent. Statute no. 1 of 1990, Statute no. 10 of 1991 and the Patent Act, Cap82 are used by Laws of Uganda in relation to patents.

  • Designs:

Design right is the right of protecting the appearance of the product or its ornamentation. In this regard Uganda follows the United Kingdom Design (Protection) Act.

Thus all the rules and regulations are honoured by the people of Uganda. In this way Uganda is going to be a developed country in Future.

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