Home Biography Work Experience Conferences and Travel Family My Judgments and Rulings Presentations Press Clipboard The Jovan and Mary Kiryabwire Foundation

2009 Press Clipboard

URA, WARID lock horns over sh160m court suit Tuesday - 4th August, 2009

THE Commercial Court has stopped the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) from collecting over sh160m and enforcing other tax collections from WARID Telecoms, pending the final determination of its main suit.

This followed an application by Muwema & Mugerwa Advocates, the lawyers representing WARID Telecoms.
The telecom company is disputing URA’s orders to Stanbic Bank to pay sh160,918,869 in taxes. Justice Geoffrey Kiryabwire of the Commercial Court also ordered the parties to carry out a reconciliation exercise to determine if any taxes were due and payable to the URA and report back to him on August 26.

WARID also sued the URA’s Commissioner of Customs for wrongly taxing its duty-free machinery. The firm also asked the court to compel URA to refund with interest a total of sh172,389,883, which it claimed the tax body forcefully paid itself from the company’s general purposes bank account.

WARID was referred to as one of the largest investors in Uganda having invested over $200m (over sh400b) in foreign direct investments.

The company further seeks general and punitive or exemplary damages for what it described as URA’s illegal and wanton acts that are damaging its operations.

The company told Justice Kiryabwire that the Commissioner of Customs willfully and unlawfully imposed tax on palisade fencing that is part of its telecommunications plant and machinery, which is exempt from import duty.

WARID also asked the court to permanently stop URA from enforcing the “third party agency notice” that requires its bankers to pay taxes on its (WARID’s) plant and machinery or any other enforcement measures against it.

The court was told that between September and October 2007, the finance ministry, granted investment incentives to WARID that its plant and machinery was to be imported free of any duty under the investment incentives by the ministry and the East African Customs Union Common External Tariff.

The court heard that the Commissioner of Customs had accepted a list of WARID items to be imported.

‘Arbitration to solve case backlog’ - August 1, 2009

Adoption of alternative dispute resolution methods by the Uganda judiciary will help reduce the case backlog that has rocked many law courts in the country, stalling proceedings for a long period, a senior international law advocacy officer has said.

Speaking at a dinner hosting judges from the Federal High Court of Nigeria and Ugandan judges in Kampala recently,  the Executive Director for International Law Institute (ILI), Mr Swithin Munyantwali, said alternative dispute resolution is one way of promoting judicial effectiveness and legal reform in sub-Saharan Africa.

Alternative dispute resolution is a legal practice adopted in the Commonwealth countries to settle disputes without necessarily going to court. The process saves time and money among litigants.

Mr Munyantwali said the Nigerian government is sponsoring a one-week specialized seminar in International Commercial Arbitration. “The current programme, titled International Commercial Arbitration, furthers the interests in legal institutions to effectively adjudicate commercial disputes and reduce case backlogs with a view of promoting investment and development,” Mr Munyantwali said. He said ILI has conducted trainings for the Nigerian judiciary in Singapore and Malaysia in alternative methods of dispute resolution.

The Uganda judges were led by Commercial Court head Justice Stella Arach while the Nigerian delegation of judges was led by Justice D. D Abutu. Justice Geoffrey Kiryabwire from the Commercial Court Division praised Uganda for being among the only three countries worldwide to adopt alternative dispute resolutions methods. The other two countries are Nigeria and India.

Justice Kiryabwire said arbitration is an African way of dispute resolution and that although it faced resistance at first, because judges and lawyers said it was outside their jurisdiction, it is now being embraced.

Recently, the Law Development Centre received Euros 60,000(Shs171 million) from the Government of Netherlands to carry out a review of its curriculum and structure, to include alternative dispute resolution methods.

LDC Deputy Director and spokesperson Percy Night Tuhaise told Saturday Monitor that the review was necessitated by the current changes in law and trends and therefore need to have curricula reflecting modern legal trends.

URA Black Lists Shoddy Suppliers - 13 July 2009

Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) will blacklist suppliers who fail to fulfill the required specifications in their contracts, an official of the authority has said.

"We have organized this workshop to tell you where you always go wrong and whoever will not be able to meet the required specifications for any order made by the authority is to be blacklisted and prosecuted," said the authority's manager for compliance and internal audit Moses Kasakya.

"Every action you take affects the authority in revenue collection and image," he said at a half-day workshop for the authority's suppliers held at hotel Africana.

He said the authority has established a whistle blowers toll-free numbers 0417-442222 and 0800117000 that can be used by the public to report cases of corruption. Picfare Industries Limited sales team leader Caleb Ainebingi criticized the authority for short listing companies as contractors but not awarded with contracts.


On Monday I began my summer internship. When we arrived at the court house in morning Justice Kiryabwire (the justice who arranged our internships) was presiding over some cases so we went to watch him and see what Ugandan Court proceedings are like. They were relatively similar to cases in the U.S. They were formal, but at the same time not as structured as ours because the judges have a little more flexibility. Things definitely work a little slower mainly because they do not have the same discovery process as we have in the United States and therefore the lawyers have to spend time looking for things to give the opposing counsel and reading documents.

During his break from the court session Justice Kiryabwire invited us all into his office to talk about our summer internships more and to let us know what judges we will be assigned to this summer.  I was lucky enough to be assigned to Chief Justice Odoki, who is the most important judge in Uganda and the 3rd most powerful person in Uganda!!!  I am very excited about this position and feel so honored to be given such an important position.

After our orientation to Uganda and the court system on Monday and Tuesday, I was finally able to meet Chief Justice Odoki on Wednesday.  I was nervous to meet him because he is such an important person in Uganda and I wanted to make a good first impression.  When I walked in he was sitting at his desk working and got up to meet me.  Chief Justice Odoki, Henry (the Registrar of the Commercial Court), and I sat down in the sitting area to talk for a little bit.  The Chief Justice was very interested to hear about the dual degree program because that is not something that they have in the Uganda.  After we had talked for a little while, the Chief Justice began to discuss the work that I would be doing this summer.  Because he was going out of town this weekend to a rule of law conference in Qatar for the next couple of days (a conference that Dean Starr of the law school is also going to), he decided to give me a book that he is currently updating to go through.  He wanted me to find the new statutes since the majority of the statutes had been revised since the last edition.  This was a good opportunity for me to get familiar with Ugandan law and how to do research in Uganda.  I have been working on that project since I was given it and will have it done by Tuesday when I will meet with the Chief Justice again.  The good news is that on Tuesday I am supposed to get to start working on the cases that are before him and researching and writing opinions for him.  I think this work will really utilize my policy background because I will be able to discuss the policy implications of the different interpretations that he can make of the law and help him to choose the interpretation that will result in the best policy outcomes for Uganda.


Pepperdine Hosts International Justice Symposium

Pepperdine University School of Law will host individuals from around the globe for a three-day International Justice Symposium sponsored by the Nootbaar Institute on Law, Religion, and Ethics, from Wednesday, Nov. 5 through Friday, Nov. 7 at the School of Law.

Bob Goff, founder of Restore International, will speak on how his international organization combats human trafficking and promotes judicial reform on Wednesday from 12:30-1:30 p.m. in Room D. Goff is also an attorney and the founding partner of Goff & DeWalt, LLP.

Thursday's topic is the Rule of Law in Africa. The Honorable Geoffrey Kiryabwire, a justice of the High Court of Uganda will speak on his work developing the court system in Uganda from 4-5 p.m. in Room D.

On Friday, Tzivia Schwartz-Getzug, executive director of Jewish World Watch, will speak the law of genocide, focusing on the genocide in Darfur. Schwartz-Getzug has a degree in Jewish Studies from UCLA and a law degree from Loyola Law School. She practiced law for several years before becoming the Western States Counsel for the Anti-Defamation League.


Two firms drag Warid Telecom to court over breach of contract Sunday - 15th March, 2009

PUNCH Telecom (U) Ltd and Millennium Telecom Ltd have sued Warid Telecom for breach of contract.
The two local companies filed their cases separately in the Commercial Court.

They are accusing Warid of unlawfully and illegally terminating agreements in which it had allegedly given them rights to sell its products in Nateete and Wandegeya in Kampala and in the Lira sub-region, respectively.

According to court records, Warid’s Lira sub-region network encompasses Lira, Oyam, Apac, Amolatar, Pader and Kitgum districts.
Punch represented by Nsibambi and Nsibambi Advocates seeks to recover sh1,004,228,318 as special damages with interest of 25% plus general damages with a 6% interest, while Millennium represented by Ausi Twijukye and Company Advocates seeks to recover as special damages sh391,800, 000 plus general and punitive damages with a 30% interest.
Both companies also seek to be awarded costs of the suits.

However, Warid Telecom has denied the allegations and has asked court to dismiss the suits with costs.
The Millennium case is before Justice Anup Singh Choudry.

Justice Geoffrey Kiryabwire will hear the Punch case on March 23.

Court Suspends Kilembe Mine Sale - 20th April 2009

THE High Court has stopped the Government from privatising Kilembe Mines Limited until a case filed by Uganda Gold Mines Limited, is finally decided. "A temporary injunction is hereby granted restraining the defendant, its agents, employees, assignees and/or servants from participating in the privatisation and/ or disposal off of its assets, relevant to the MEFSA particularly the special mining lease 2151 and the surrounding exclusive exploration licence No. EL 0138 and the known and unknown mineral deposits there, pending final disposal of the main suit," the order reads in part. The order that was granted by Justice Geoffrey Kiryabwire followed an application by Timothy Masembe-Kanyerezi, the lawyer representing Uganda Gold Mines Ltd in which he sought a temporary injunction to stop the sale of the company and its..


Encyclopedia > Bagwere

The Bagwere are a Bantu ethnic group in Uganda and constitute some 4% of the population. Around 500,000 Bagwere live in eastern Uganda and exist on subsistence farming. The Bagwere speak the Lugwere language. Map showing the approximate distribution of Bantu (dull yellow) vs. ... Like most farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa, this Cameroonian man cultivates at the subsistence level. ... Lugwere is the language spoken by the Bagwere, a Bantu people found in the eastern part of Uganda...

They leave in the Eastern part of Uganda mostly in Pallisa district, where they are over 80% of the population. They have the Bagisu, the Basoga , the Balamogi and the Itesot as their neighbhours Mbale city, one time reputed to the cleanest city in Uganda is home to most Bagwere, and have the following towns; Pallisa, Budaka, Kibuku, Kagumu, Kamonkoli, Kadama, Iki-Iki, Bulangira, Tirinyi. Luggwere is also one of the main dialects to be found in Pallisa town. The bagwere have many clans the leading ones being the; Balalaka, Baganza, Bakomolo, balangira, badaka, baumo, Banaminto, Bapalama, Bakabweri, Balyampiti, Banyekero, They are said to have emigrated to their present area from Bunyoro, and travelled along lake kyoga. for this reason all tribes settled along the Kyoga like; Baluli, Bakenye, Balamogi have a similar language to Lugwere. They are the country's largest cotton growers and also grow Rice, maize, millet, sorghum, beans and cassava.

The Bagwere are very proud to of their heritage especially as they are few in number but very well educated. Their most prominent son is the late Balaki Kebba Kirya one of the founding members of independent Uganda who died in 1994. Other notable Bagwere personalities are; Prof Kiryabwire africa's first black neuro-surgeon, Colonel Paul Babula a Fighter jet pilot, Ambassador Edward Wakida once Vice President of ICAO, Engineer Johnathan Mwedde Chief Engineer Uganda, Professor George Kirya Vice Chancellor Makerere university, Justice Geoffrey Kiryabwire the youngest judge of the High court, Ambassador Dr. Tomasi Sisye Kiryapawo (UK), Professor Ruth Mukama, Ambassador Taliwaku, Professor Phillip Wabulya, Honourable Juliet Rainer Kafire Vice president democratic party and a remarkable woman who built 52 Schools in Uganda, Bishop emeritus Alpaksud Gonahasa assistant arch bishop of Uganda, and Bob Mubaala the paramount all clan leader.


URA, Akright in court Thursday - 9th July, 2009

JUSTICE Geoffrey Kiryabwire of the Commercial Court has ordered the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) and Akright Projects to discuss the disputed tax imposed on the company before they present their cases in court.

“Go back and discuss the figures that the tax collectors imposed on the company and what the company thinks it should pay, but, you should involve the company’s tax advisors in the discussions before you can seek the court’s assistance,” the judge ordered recently.

Kiryabwire said it would be wrong for Akright Projects to bluntly reject the figure the URA imposed on it without giving a counter figure it takes to be the right one.

Akright sued URA commissioner general, seeking orders to cancel tax assessments of over sh200m imposed on it.

Akright, a real estate developer, alleged that the URA used estimates and wrongly imposed on it outrageous taxes for Value Added Tax, corporation tax and Pay As You Earn, amounting to sh227m.

The firm wants a fresh tax assessment.

Court blocks URA from taxing Warid - June 24, 2009

Court has blocked Uganda Revenue Authority from collecting Shs1.4 billion in taxes from Warid Telecom Ltd. Commercial Court Registrar, Ms Gladys Nakibule has issued an interim order against URA and its Commissioner for Customs restraining them from collecting the above sum of money following an application by the company for the same pending determination of an application for a temporary injunction.

The order is arising from a case Warid Telecom filed against the revenue body challenging its decision demanding for the stated money in question in Import Duty, Value Added Tax and Withholding tax arising from importation of the company’s plant and machinery equipment.

According to the company, the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development in 2007 granted investment incentive to its management in respect of its plant and machinery, which was to be imported duty free.

In its letter dated September 1 and October 4, 2007, the Ministry advised the company to submit details of the import transaction to the Commissioner Customs, which the company management duly did. The Commissioner Customs scrutinized the items but advised the company that all equipments would be treated as plant and machinery and that VAT would be deferrable.

The company claims it imported the items but to its surprise the Commissioner Customs demanded Shs406.7 million and import tax due for palisade fencing, one of the items. The company wrote to the Ministry of Finance seeking its intervention in the matter since the fencing materials were part of the plant and machinery but to no avail. The revenue body, during the same period went ahead to demand various amounts of taxes amounting to Shs1.4 billion.

According to the telecom company the revenue forcefully debited Shs172.4 million from the company gross payment account for which it demands a refund.

The telecom company contends the various amounts of tax demanded and the agency notice issued to the bank were not preceded by any tax assessment.

Warid Telecom further contends the palisade fencing materials were part of the plant and machinery which were exempt from tax therefore demanding tax on the same is unlawful.

The company therefore wants a declaration that the palisade fencing material imported are exempt from import duty and issuance of third party notice to the bank in a bid to recover taxes over its transaction is unlawful.

The company further wants orders for refund of monies that were forcefully debited from the company account and costs.

The court has further restrained the revenue body from enforcing the third party notice it issued to Stanbic bank in a bid to recover part of the tax claimed amounting to Shs160.9 million. “An order is issued restraining the defendants and its agents from enforcing the third party notice issued to Stanbic bank on June 5, 2009 and any other tax collections pending determination of an application for a temporary injunction", the interim order reads in part.

Kaveera Makers Secure Injunction on 120 Percent Tax - 23 February 2009

MANUFACTURERS have secured a court injunction stopping the Uganda Investment Authority (URA) from charging the 120% excise duty on polythene bags above the recommended 30 microns.

The manufacturers, through James Kyazze of Shonubi Musoke & Company Advocates, requested Justice Geoffrey Kiryabwire of the Commercial Court to allow them pay a 10% duty as they await the court's decision on the matter.

The wrangle follows the Excise Tariff Act Amendment of 2008 that imposed the 120% excise duty on polythene bags above 30 microns.

The manufacturers went to court following threats by URA to sell off their factories to recover about sh7b in tax arrears since the 120% levy was imposed.

"My clients have agreed to pay 10% and this must be deducted from sacks and bags only but not from all the other products they manufacture as stated in the 2008 Excise Tariff Amendment Act," Kyazze told the court last week.

Kiryabwire said URA should accept the 10% duty as court resolves the remaining issue of the levy covering all products.

The Judge also criticised institutions for failing to negotiate with their clients and always running to courts.

"Commercial banks, for example, have made courts their credit managers. Instead of calling their clients to ask what could have made them delay to repay the loan, they run to courts," he explained.

"Some of those cases don't need to be brought to court. You can easily solve them through negotiations. These are your tax-payers who have been here for a long time and are not running away. It is better to negotiate with them instead of selling off their properties," Kiryabwire advised.


Justice Sebutinde's Star Still Rising - 29 July 2009

YOU probably remember it. That front page newspaper picture of Lady Justice Julia Sebutinde passionately looking at a witness and numbly clasping her lips as her nearly teary eyes intently looked up to the man.

The year was 1999. Sebutinde, then chair of the judicial probe into corruption in the Police, appeared overcome. The witness was shedding tears and the lady justice seemed to struggle to hold back her own.

This was just one of the many sides of one of Uganda's most prominent high court judges. She sometimes hardened, lashing out at arrogant witnesses and commanding them into submission.

She put the fear of God into many otherwise untouchable souls with her calm but often firm tone.

"Today, I am going to have you for lunch and supper," she reportedly assured Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) officers in a much publicised probe into mismanagement of the tax body.

Sebutinde chaired three judicial probes - first corruption in the Uganda Police force, followed by the unscrupulous purchase of junk helicopters by the Ministry of Defence and then corruption in the URA.

At each of these probes, she exercised utmost authority, demanding accountability from errant bigwigs who sometimes tended to take her for granted.

It came at a huge cost, often putting herself and her family in danger but like a wounded lioness she soldiered on, trading her own safety for the restoration of sanity to a corruption-ridden country.

Her timely and thorough findings led to a wave of positive reforms in the Police force and the URA; bodies that were, before her judicial intervention, examples of corruption and mismanagement. For such and many other good works, the lady justice has stood out, but seldom been recognised. But it seems her day has come.

Sebutinde was one of two women recently awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree for their outstanding work by the University of Edinburgh.

The award presented to her last month recognised her contribution to justice and improvement of society.

She received the award together with Justice Unity Dow, the first female High Court Judge of Botswana and renowned women and child rights activist. Sebutinde acknowledged the honour with gratitude.

"The fact that a foreign university recognised my work and contribution not just nationally but internationally, in this manner was most exhilarating. The work that we do is often thankless and sometimes even unpopular," she said. Sebutinde and her family were present at Edinburgh University to receive the award that is usually bestowed upon a few outstanding alumni.

For her and those who know her, it has been a long, arduous walk to such a prestigious achievement.

It began in the mid 1970s when she enroled to study law at Makerere University law school at a time when the course was a domain of male bright students. She gave it her all, excelling in a field that seemed to have been a fall-back.

"I chose to study law almost by accident. I thought I could make quite a good doctor but I was weak at chemistry and I quickly realised it was wiser to pursue something else instead. Law seemed the next best thing to me."

She steadily worked through the three-year course, graduating and later attaining a diploma in legal practice from the Law Development Centre (LDC) in 1978.

Her first job was with the Ministry of Justice where she worked for close to 12 years before enrolling for a master's degree in law at the University of Edinburgh in the UK. She graduated one year later with a distinction.

She thereafter worked with the Ministry of the Commonwealth in the UK and later joined the Ministry of Justice in the newly independent republic of Namibia. In 1996, she was appointed Judge of the High Court of Uganda and seconded nine years later to the UN-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone.

Two years later, she was appointed the presiding judge of Trial Chamber II, currently engaged in the trial of the former president of Liberia, Charles Taylor.

Throughout her life, Sebutinde has projected an exemplary image.

In school she was the humble but much-focused girl that commanded respect among students. "She was a very serious, focused and religious girl. She concentrated on her studies and was somewhat conservative," recalls Dr Edwadi Kayondo, Sebutinde's classmate at Budo in the early 1970s.

Justice Geoffrey Kiryabwire, who first met Sebutinde in church (then active in All Saints church activities) during his student days in the 1970s, describes her as very committed.

She works very hard but also loves telling a good joke and sharing a laugh," says Kiryabwire.

A commissioner at two of Sebutinde's probes, Kiryabwire recalls the long days and nights spent preparing and sifting through reports.

"We sometimes burnt the midnight candle, the deadlines were tight, the workload was immense and intellectually demanding but she never wavered," he says.

Sebutinde grew up in what she describes as a humble home, the second eldest of four children. "My father is a retired civil servant. My mother was a full time housewife," she says.

Hard work, prayer and good manners were to later influence her life. Through Lake Victoria Primary School in Entebbe to Gayaza High School and later Budo, Sebutinde received a holistic education, developing not just academically but also in other important values.

A self-confessed lover of music, Sebutinde says she "enjoys a good book or movie every now and then."

As a busy mother of two beautiful daughters, the lady justice knows the challenges of juggling a busy job and motherhood. But with the support of her loving and supportive husband, John Sebutinde, they have kept the family going despite the distance. "We travel a lot between our two homes. We try our best to spend the holidays together," she said.

For a busy mother, Sebutinde is not leaving anything to chance. "When you are a parent trying to raise two daughters in a difficult world, you want to be the best role model that you can possibly be," she says. She knows her beloved late mother would not have asked more of her.

"I regret that my mother Ida did not live to share such an event. She was a woman, who despite her own limited opportunities, instilled in us the determination that regardless of the challenges along the way, we can achieve anything we want to if we put our minds to it! This is the legacy I have passed on to my children."

Sebutinde might have a few regrets in life, but there is no doubt that she has made the most of what God, her parents and life have given her.

Sebutinde might have a few regrets in life, but there is no doubt that she has made the most of what God, her parents and life itself have given her.

Meet the all-rounder

  • During her youth, Justice Sebutinde was an active member of All Saints Church, participating in a variety of activities

  • Sebutinde is on Facebook, a social interactive friends network

  • She loves Indian cuisine and spicy food. She is a good cook

  • She is very good at sewing; used to sew her own clothes

  • Sebutinde is a Michael Jackson fan; she has a reasonable collection of the fallen star's hits and albums

  • She was a very good singer, often called upon to assist in the school band at Kings College Budo. Sebutinde sang with the famous school choir- The Nightingales and the Joint Heirs - a Christian youth choir

  • Pets are her thing. She owns two dogs called Sofi and Cindy

  • She is extremely neat and clean. During her school days, she would rush to brush her teeth after every meal to her friends' amusement.

  • As an organised lady, she always has all her belongings well arranged.

  • She is very particular

  • Sebutinde keeps up with the times and knows as much about Beyonce and Usher Raymond as any young person

  • She follows soccer quite a bit

  • She is a good swimmer, she has been since her school days and used to take her daughters swimming before they grew too big for her to carry them on her back at the pool

  • Sebutinde loves a good joke and will join in one

  • She is very close to and somehow still looks out for her sister Christine even today

  • For a judge of her status and calibre, Sebutinde is a very approachable person


Copyright © 2010 Geoffrey Kiryabwire                           Powered by Pixel Magic Ltd.