East African Court of Justice Arusha 20th May 2022: The Appellate Division has allowed USD 23,752 as costs awarded in a matter (Taxation Reference No. 01 of 2020 Ismail Dabule & 1004 others vs the Attorney General of Uganda).

The matter arises from Taxation Cause No. 01 of 2020 in which in turn arises from Appeal No. 2 of 2019 originating from the main case Reference No. 5 of 2016, whose subject is over alleged unlawful refusal by the Government of Uganda to release money the national courts had declared unlawfully frozen on the Applicants’ Bank accounts.

In this case (Taxation Reference) the Applicants are challenging the ruling of the Taxing Officer (who is the Registrar of the Court) for Taxing the Applicants’ Bill of costs from USD 1,518,317 (One Million Five Hundred Eighteen Thousand Three Hundred Seventeen dollars) to USD 10,602 (Ten Thousand Six Hundred Two).

Court in its ruling found that the Taxing Officer erred in law when he disallowed all claims on disbursements from items 16 to 31 of the Bill of costs for the Applicants.

Court further found no fault on the part of the Applicants’ lawyer in not producing the receipts at the time of Taxation hearing because it was conducted online. The Court added that the Lawyer for the Applicants already had in his possession the receipts.

Court also found that the receipts were later filed in sub-registry Kampala a month before decision of the Taxing master was rendered. “Granted the prevailing unprecedented Covid-19 circumstances under which the Taxation took place, we are satisfied that there was nothing to prevent the Taxing Officer from considering those receipts since they were in his possession for many days before the ruling was delivered.” said Court

The Court therefore considered some of the claims that were disallowed by the Taxing master and allowed and taxed extra amount of USD 4,150 (four thousand, one hundred and fifty dollars) disbursements, additional to USD 19,000 (Nineteen thousand dollars) instruction fees and USD 602 (six hundred two dollars) for attendance among other things which made a total of USD 23, 752 (twenty three thousand, seven hundred and fifty two dollars).

Court noted that the main Reference has been remitted to the Trial Court for hearing and this therefore is not a final bill of costs, The Reference still at the stage stands unresolved.

This Reference was brought by ISMAIL DABULE & 1004 others, under Rules 84 and Rule 130 (1) of the East African Court of Justice Rules of 2019 (hereafter the Rules).

At the delivery of the judgment, the Applicants were represented by Mr. Richard Omongole from Omongole and Company Advocates while the Respondent was represented by Ms. Christine Kahwa, Ms. Imelda Adongo and Mr. Ojambo Bichachu from the Attorney General’s Office of Uganda.

The ruling was delivered by a bench composed of Honourable Justices of the Appellate Division; Nestor Kayobera (President), Geoffrey Kiryabwire (Vice President), Sauda Mjasiri, Anita Mugeni and Kathurima M’Inoti.

Notes for editors:

On 25th September 2020, the Applicants filed Taxation Cause No. 1 of 2020 arising from Appeal No. 2 of 2019, which arose from Reference No. 5 of 2016.

In Appeal No. 2 of 2019, the Applicants, who were the Appellants, were awarded costs. In the Taxation Cause No. 1 of 2020, the Applicants claimed a total of USD 1,518,317 (United States Dollars One Million Five Hundred Eighteen Thousand Three Hundred Seventeen) as costs incurred while conducting the Appeal. The claim against the Respondent was for instruction fees, reimbursement of actual expenses incurred by the Applicants to wit costs of filing the reference, travel and up keep expenses between Kampala and Arusha, the seat of the East African Court of Justice, perusals, drawings, making copies and drawing pleadings.

The Taxing Officer taxed the Bill from USD 1,518,317 (United States Dollars One Million Five Hundred Eighteen Thousand Three Hundred Seventeen) to USD 10,602.(United States Dollars Ten Thousand Six Hundred and Two).

The Applicants being dissatisfied by the award, filed this Reference before this Court.