War as arbitration centre drags gov’t to court over new competitor
The Center for Arbitration and Dispute Resolution (CADER) Uganda has dragged the Attorney General to court seeking government to do away with its competitor, the International Centre for Arbitration & Mediation in Kampala (ICAMEK), which was launched in April this year.
CADER’s petition is the 11th in the series of petitions against ICAMEK.
CADER is the statutory body with jurisdiction over arbitration matters in Uganda has tasked government to protect its jurisdiction from the alleged infringement by ICAMEK.
ICAMEK is an independent, not-for-profit organisation, dedicated to advancing Alternative Dispute Resolution in Uganda and across East Africa. ICAMEK is the first private sector Led institution focused on delivering the benefits of world-class Alternative Dispute Resolution to businesses, professionals, governments and communities alike.
ICAMEK was officially launched by the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs the Hon. Major General Kahinda Otafiire (rtd) on April 25, 2019, having been registered officially by Uganda Bankers Association (UBA) and Uganda Law Society (ULS) together with other partners on July 26, 2018.
CADER’s petition comes at the time when some lawyers under ULS are questioning the registration of ICAMEK in Uganda, claiming they were not consulted.
The lawyers opposed to ICAMEK want the following questions to be addressed:
Who authorised the use of ULS as a subscriber and how! Where is the instrument?
Who appointed Gimara Director?
Isn’t appointment of Gimara as first director as ULS President emeritus conflict of interest?!Is it even ethical?
Have its accounts in Stanbic been scrutinised by assembly or even auditor general?
Can statutory body actually create private company? (That’s if its members consented?
Why are ICAMEK positions not advertised yet they say ULS participates? Is ULS for a few?
Who appointed private law firm to register this company? Was there ever Annual general meeting of (AGM) of bankers body and ULS? When and where?
Have individuals hijacked statutory ULS for personal gain?
That aside, in May, a section of lawyers petitioned court challenging the legality of ICAMEK, saying it is a privately owned company operating without the consent of the members.
In the case filed before the Civil Division of the High Court, city lawyers; Nelson Walusimbi and Andrew Wambi sued ULS and ICAMEK).
It is alleged that by subscribing as a member to ICAMEK, the ULS is modifying its statutory mandate to circumvent the limits imposed on it by statute and to aid private profit initiatives against the general public of Uganda.
Among others, they wanted court to declare that; the administration and dispensation of justice is, by virtue of the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda, a preserve of the government and therefore a private entity such as the second defendant (ICAMEK) is prohibited by law from setting up a parallel and competing system of justice and judicial administration from that which is endangered by the state.
However, in early June, ULS executives in a rebuttal asked court to dismiss the case. Through its lawyers, ULS claimed the case did not disclose a cause of action, barred by law and an abuse of the court process.
Simon Peter Atwiine