ABM Chambers, House 42 | 54 Kanjokya

law@abmadvocates.com

A Right to Life

There has been a recent uproar in the state of America concerning the overturn of a popular case called Roe Vs Wade which originally set a precedent for legal abortions in the United States.

The decision involved the case of Norma McCorvey known as Jane Roe who became pregnant with her third child. Jane Roe wanted an abortion but lived in Texas, where abortion was illegal except when necessary to save the mother’s life and in instances of rape. She then filed a case against the state of Texas arguing that the state abortion laws were unconstitutional. The court ruled in her favour. The Supreme Court ruled that the Constitution of the United States protects a pregnant woman’s liberty to choose to have an abortion without excessive government restriction.

Credit: Morningconsult

“We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

Thomas Jefferson

As many might know, abortion is a procedure to end a pregnancy so that it does not result in the birth of a child and is sometimes referred to as a termination of pregnancy. Abortion is a contentious subject in our society today, though this may be so, the law in Uganda is quite firm to state that abortion is illegal. Article 22 of the 1995 Constitution provides for the right to life, section 2 specifically provides that no one has the right to terminate an unborn child except if it’s authorized by law.

Roe Vs Wade discussed the different views on when life begins. These views are varied according to beliefs, status, community, and science even today raising war between those who are pro-choice vs pro-life i.e. some believe that life begins at conception while others are of the view that life begins after birth. However, if this is the case, why would a mother mourn their unborn child? 

If the decision to reverse the case of Roe Vs Wade prevails, it will open a can of worms forcing the majority of the state legislators to review the abortion laws of the whole country. Our law illegalises abortion, except where authorised by law however it fails to outline specific exceptions. It is quite clear that the life of a person under the law in Uganda begins at conception. The Penal Code Act does not comprehensively provide for instances in which abortion may be permitted. However, it provides a defence to a person accused of any of the offences related to abortion.

A person shall not be criminally liable where the termination of a pregnancy was conducted through a surgical operation with reasonable care and skill to save the life of the mother (life endangerment). Some would argue the circumstances of each case individually. For example, would it be fair that a woman with a mental disability and a victim of rape to be forced to carry a child? It is quite hard to evaluate the situation based solely on a legal basis. Even still, the questions regarding the legalisation of abortion are quite mute here. It is clear, that abortion is illegal and its penalty extends to both the person providing the surgical operation and the person on whom a surgical operation is being performed.

What are Partnerships?

A few weeks ago, a friend asked me to join her on a venture to start a business, to say that I was excited is an understatement because I have never owned a business. Ideally, the plan was for us to be partners. Legally, a partnership is a contractual, expressed or implied between persons carrying on a business in common with a view of profit.

Partnerships are not limited to trade, business, occupation, or profession. This means that a partnership can be formed for any reason. A partnership is governed by the Partnership Act, 2010 which limits a partnership to not more than 20 partners for occupations and trade and 50 partners for professionals as long as they share a common vision. 

Many times, as you are starting a business, it may be hard for you to come up with all the capital all at once. Partnerships hold this over many businesses as it is easier to start off your business when you combine efforts with a friend or a colleague. After all, the saying does say that two heads are better than one- in this case maybe 20 heads. If you desire to form a partnership, it may be tricky to pick and choose the best one that suits your intentions. Here is a breakdown to help you decide.

Credit: Keypersonline

“Great things in business are never done by one person; they’re done by a team of people.”

Steve Jobs

There are three forms of partnerships in Uganda, these include;

1. General Partnership

A general partnership is a for-profit entity that is created by a mutual understanding between two or more parties. A general partnership can be quite informal. All it takes is a shared interest, perhaps a written contract (though not necessary), and a handshake. The most obvious risk that comes with a general partnership is that of legal liability. In a general partnership, all partners share liability for any issue that may arise.

2.  Limited liability partnership

A limited liability partnership (LLP) is a type of partnership where all partners have limited liability. All partners can also partake in management activities. With LLPs, a partner is not held liable for any negligent act committed by another partner or by an employee, not under the partner’s supervision. Under the law, ‘liability’ can be shared, existent upon partners or other actors. LLPs are limited to 20 partners, who contribute a share capital and are not liable for any debts and obligations beyond their share contributions to a business. The partnership is a separate legal entity from its partners making it a ‘body corporate’. This means that such a partnership exists as an individual. It can sue or be sued in its capacity, it can own a business, trade-in, contract or employ workers in its capacity.

3. Limited partnership.

This is a partnership made up of two or more partners, the general partner oversees and runs the business while limited partners do not partake in managing the business. However, the general partner of a limited partnership has unlimited liability for the debt, and any limited partners have limited liability up to the amount of their investment. This means that in case any issues arise, the general partner will surely take the fall.

Any other partner, known as limited (or silent) partners, provides capital. Thes partners do not make any managerial decisions and are not responsible for any debts beyond their initial investment. Quite a tall order if I am to say so myself. 

Oprah Winfrey and Gayle King. One of the best business duos of all time

Like everything, each partnership form comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. However, it is safe to say that these pros and cons are highly dependent on the amount of liability each partner has as to the partnership and the freedom a partner has to work independently from the partnership itself. Upon great deliberation, though a general partnership seemed the most feasible, my friend and I decided on a Limited Liability partnership. 

Below are a few features as to why we made this choice over the others; 

  1. LLP partners can employ personal employees. A partner can acquire the services of any person as long as he clearly states that that employee is not the partner. The intention is to have the partnership operate without interference from partners’ personal decisions which may affect its legality.
  2. The acts of a partnership will be imputed on the partners as individuals should they hold out to act as the partnership’s representatives.
  3. LLPs operate in structures formed from a partnership deed that binds the partners. A partnership deed is a partnership agreement between the partners of the firm which outlines the terms and conditions of the partnership between the partners. The purpose of a partnership deed is to provide a clear understanding of the roles of each partner, which ensures the smooth running of the operations of the firm.
  4. LLPs provide flexibility that allows partners to venture into diverse businesses without influence from each other unless such ventures breach the Partnership Agreement.
  5. Limited Liability Partner can assign his contribution to the partnership to an assignee who assumes the latter’s position in the partnership. This is done with consent from the general partner(s).
  6. Last but not least, LLPs are professional.

Intellectual Property and the Youth

The year 2022 is slowly becoming the year of creativity stemming from the growth of creative content that peaked at the start of the pandemic. If you have paid any attention to your phones or any of your digital devices over the past two years, you will notice that the youth today are taking more initiative to create and embrace their creative power on various platforms, especially on social media.

It is no wonder this year, Intellectual Property day has honoured IP and the youth in a whole new way. With the youth continuously stepping into various innovation spaces more than they have ever before, young inventors, creators, and entrepreneurs will need to use their intellectual property (IP) rights to achieve their goals, generate income, create jobs, tackle local and global challenges and support community and national development. Gen Z is taking the world by storm.

The majority of the population in Uganda is under the age of 35 and if that is not enough there is a continued rise in unemployment. Though we covered intellectual property rights a few weeks ago, it is useless if youth have no practical ways to use these rights to their advantage. Question is, what hinders the youth and young entrepreneurs in Uganda use the IP rights to create their pathway for a better future?

Intellectual property is a key aspect for economic development

Craig Venter

It should be noticed that the majority of the youth going into entrepreneurship and creative works are unaware of the importance that intellectual property rights give them. In simple terms, they devalue its importance. Even though it is commonly said that ignorance is bliss, in this case, ignorance is detrimental. It is vital for any young entrepreneur especially in the creative space to register their IP for the sole purpose of protection.

Commonly today and in Uganda, many ideas are copied by other individuals and though IP registration does not allow exclusivity for eternity, it does award the owner protection from copycats and creates a legal avenue for one to gain recourse from the courts of law. If more individuals fathomed the importance of having their intellectual property registered, more individuals would be open to innovating rather than copying ideas from others. 

Lack of faith in the system and exploitation of creative works have caused young entrepreneurs to take a back seat to the registration of their IP. We have all had moments in our lives where the system has let us down. After all, fool us once, shame on you, fool us twice shame on us. There is no full-proof system, however, cultural influence has a huge part to play in this mistrust. Our culture doesn’t encourage or promote diversity in ideas.

The majority of the youth are encouraged to do the same old thing and discouraged from venturing into ideas that promote innovation and creativity. If a young entrepreneur has an idea, it is on us to create room for them to venture into different ways to bring it to life. Many innovators are waiting for various projects and sponsors to fund inventions before they create which leads to the exploitation of individuals.

Credit: WIPO

There is a misconception that it is expensive to register intellectual property, which is far from reality. In Uganda, registration of intellectual property tools is quite affordable, however, young entrepreneurs believe that they would have to spend an arm and a leg to be able to achieve this. Young innovators are in dire need of skilling. This will provide them with practical means and information on how to protect their creations. 

The expected and much-needed guidance from the URSB is not given. Several entrepreneurs are ill-advised and uninformed about the procedures required to register their Intellectual property and the persons at the registry have not adequately offered assistance. It is at this point that a gap is created and ideas are stolen. There is a need for this to be rectified.

Luckily, ABM offers opportunities for business and IP registration. Furthermore, we have pro bono opportunities for individuals who require free legal advice concerning the same. These services are specialised and there is a required application and procedure to be followed, but once one is chosen, they are awarded free legal information from the firm. Uganda has created several laws that aim at protecting and utilising these intellectual property tools, all that is left is for young innovators to seize the moment, keep creating and use these tools to their advantage.

The Electricity (Amendment) Bill

Growing up, I remember this particular neighbour I had who would steal electricity from the only hotel in the neighbourhood. The fiasco that followed after they were caught was quite a sight . The entire village was amazed at how power could be stolen. I’ve always wondered what happened to those neighbours after that, but I am pretty sure that they probably did it again. While the theft of electricity is a major concern today, it is not the only reason why the bill was proposed. 

The Electricity (Amendment) Bill was tabled on 14 January 2022 before parliament. It intends to amend the Electricity Act cap. 145 that was enacted in 1999, removing the present inconsistencies, introducing flexibility in its implementation and streamlining operations of the electricity sector.

There have been several changes in the electricity sector since then, the Act however does not effectively address issues of institutional responsibilities and efficiency, enforcement of compliance, and does not have adequate penalties for theft of electrical energy and vandalism of electrical facilities among other things.

The purchase of all electricity generated in Uganda is performed by a single institution whose network does not cover the whole country. On top of that, any successor companies to the Uganda Electricity Board are mandated to report to the Minister for finance and not the Minister responsible for electricity. This has been an obstacle to the management of electricity throughout the country at large. Therefore calls a need for this bill to be created.

Below are some of the key amendments for which the proposed Act seeks to address:

Owen Falls Dam. Credit: Travelistica

Electricity is really just organized lightning

George Carlin

a) An increase in funding to the Electricity sector.

The Act previously awarded a levy not exceeding 0.3% on revenue received from any generated electric energy. It is believed that this percentage of tax is not enough to supply electricity to the whole country. The bill seeks to add a 0.7% levy on income from services rendered by the authority. This is meant to ensure that the authority (the Electricity Regulatory Authority) has adequate funds to regulate the electricity industry by providing an additional source of funding to the authority.

b) A punishment for theft of Electricity. 

The Act awarded a fine not exceeding thirty currency points or imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years to any person who was caught stealing or diverting energy from its proper source. The proposed bill suggests that this penalty be revised to increase the fine to twenty thousand currency points or imprisonment not exceeding ten years or both. Twenty Thousand currency points amount to 400 million Uganda shillings. Such a penalty is meant to be a deterrent causing to curb individuals who vandalise electrical facilities, steal electricity and interference with electrical works. 

c) Distribution of electricity

The Act allows the authority to designate a bulk supplier to transmit and sell electricity in bulk to distribution and sale companies whose terms will be specified in the sales licence. The bill however gives the authority the leeway to prescribe the circumstances under which a holder of a generation licence may supply the electricity in bulk to a holder of a distribution licence, transmission licence or directly to a specified class or category of customers. This means that any companies that distribute electricity are in every way accountable to the authority on how they will distribute the electricity they generate which was not the case before. The bill doesn’t limit electricity distribution to companies that supply in bulk but opens it up to a holder of a generation or transmission licence that may supply electricity to persons. This is to be done through a fair, open and competitive process. 

d) Dispute Resolution with Customers. 

Any person who is aggrieved by a decision or action may apply to the licensee for redress.  Disputes are bound to arise but the Bill outlines a procedure for complaints from customers to be addressed. The licensees are expected to develop dispute resolution procedures to address the complaints from customers before the complaints are referred to the Tribunal. If you have ever had a complaint with your electricity and your complaints have not been addressed, the bill puts these concerns to rest. 

e) The members of the Electricity Disputes Tribunal

The tribunal currently has three members according to the Act, and it is a requirement being that all three members be present for the tribunal to perform its functions. This however can cause a huge problem as to its effectiveness. The bill however has amended this and has increased the membership to seven in order to ensure the tribunal’s effective performance of its duties. I imagine that with the increase in membership, the required quorum will automatically change to allow the best delivery of service.

A Promise To Marry

While it would make more sense to dive straight into the preliminaries that come with marriage, I thought it would be more befitting to first address what comes before marriage. A promise to marry in layman’s terms is a betrothal or rather an engagement to be married.

Legally, it is a contract mutually entered into by a man or a woman capable of contracting matrimony that they will marry one another. To be honest with you, this is probably the most romantic the law will ever get. 

Though engagements today can end in a blink of an eye, traditionally a promise to marry amounted to a contractual undertaking that was legally enforceable provided the aggrieved party could show that the party at fault intended to enter into the legal relationship but withdrew from it without any legal justification. 

This type of contract is different from an ordinary contract in that it need not be in writing and the law provided no particular form of words of promise. If an individual fails to fulfill a promise to marry, it will be treated as similar to a breach of contract. This means that one party may be able to hold the other party liable for breaking their promise.

A promise to marry
Credit: Shutterstock

It is better to promise nothing and try and give everything…..than promise everything and give nothing at all

Unknown

For a contract of this kind to exist, there is no legal requirement for a declaration of an intention to marry by both parties to be made at the same time. A reasonable time is required for the communication of this intention. A promise to marry must be fulfilled within the stipulated time, or, where no time has been stipulated, within a reasonable time. A conditional promise to marry may be sued upon when this condition has been fulfilled.

In Larok v Obwoya, the Respondent (a lady) and the Appellant were friends when the lady was a pupil. At college, she became pregnant and as a result, was expelled from the college. The man wrote to her promising to marry her by the end of April. This was in 1968. In October, he again wrote to the lady indicating that he was no longer keen to marry her. The lady then went to court and sued for breach of promise to marry and the lower court held that the man had committed a breach of the promise and awarded the lady damages. This decision was based on two grounds;

 i) That her chances of getting married had been impaired

ii) The court also put consideration to the injury posed to her feelings.

The law isn’t so thoughtless after all.

In such an instance where a plaintiff prevails in their lawsuit, they cannot force a defendant to marry them if the defendant does not wish to do so. Simply put, unlike every other contract, if the plaintiff prevails, not all contract remedies can apply. For example, they cannot be awarded specific performance as a remedy. A defendant cannot be forced to marry a plaintiff furthermore, a plaintiff’s award of damages may be subject to mitigation, or a reduction if they acted in some way to contribute to their breach.

If the plaintiff has already married another individual, it will not affect their ability to recover damages in any way. The fact that the plaintiff married another individual does not relieve a defendant of their liability under the promise to marry contract.

Today, a breach of a promise to marry is not a common plea in our courts. However, it’s interesting to know that an engagement at one time held so weight in our society.

Credit: Adobe

So who gets to keep the ring?

Everyone knows diamonds are a girl’s best friend and I can imagine how hard it might be for a lady undergoing a broken promise of engagement to let go of the ring.  The subject of the ring and its possession after a broken engagement is left up to the parties to decide.

But aren’t we lucky we have someone who keeps his promise and actually died for us? Have a very Happy Easter weekend!!

The Contract

A promise is a declaration or assurance that one will do something or that a particular thing will happen. In our everyday lives, promises are made left, right, and centre, the same promises can or may be broken. In a business, every promise that is made is stipulated in what you may know as a contract.

Contracts are the bane of almost every business’ existence. In simple terms, a contract is a promise enforceable by law. To define it further, a contract is a legally enforceable agreement that creates, defines and governs the mutual rights and obligations of its parties.

As you run your business, you may be curious as to what amounts to a contract. A contract can either be written, oral, or partially written and oral. During the drafting of a contract, statements made during negotiations can be determined as terms, but they may also be determined as conditions if they are found to be a statement of fact made by one party which induces the other to enter into the contract. 

Credit: Unsplash

Until a contract is signed, nothing is real

Glenn Danzig

Terms and conditions are usually evidenced by what the parties wrote or said, when there is a breach of contract, a court must determine what the parties intended. A breach of contract occurs when one or both parties fail to keep the promises or agreement or fail to live up to or their responsibilities stipulated in the contract.

It is possible for the whole contract or part of the contract to be breached. A plaintiff’s remedy depends on whether the statement is classified as a condition or a term. A contract awards certain expectations to the parties who are privy to it. Therefore once these expectations are not met, there is cause for the non-breaching party to seek remedy from the court. 

Here are a few remedies available for any party seeking recourse;

1. Damages 

These are the most common legal remedies given for a breach of contract. This is solely based on the actual losses you have sustained as a result of said breach. When one party fails to perform their end of a contract, they are expected to pay for the losses the other party has incurred due to that breach.

2. Specific performance 

Have you ever been forced to do something you do not want to do? Well, specific performance is where the court orders the breaching party to perform their end of the bargain. This remedy is usually available once monetary damages would not adequately compensate an aggrieved party.

3. Injunctions 

Injunctions and specific performance are quite similar. The major difference is while in a specific performance a party is ordered to do something, injunction orders stop a party from doing something. Injunctions may be permanent or temporary, the latter being awarded to a party probably while litigation is pending and the former can be given as the final ruling in a proceeding. 

4. Rescission 

As the word plainly states, a non-breaching party is allowed to cancel the contract as a remedy to its breach. A party is allowed to simply refuse to complete their end of the bargain putting parties back in the position they had as though they had never entered the contract in the first place. 

Rescission however is not one remedy that someone just wakes up in the morning and receives. The breach that one is claiming must be at the heart of the contract. In other words a condition.

These are just a few of the remedies that may be available to you in case of any misgivings as to your contract.

But as always, it is best that you seek professional advice.

Credit: IADB

What is Alternative Dispute Resolution?

As we all may know, a court dispute can be a long and daunting process. While it may be easy for any person to pursue a lawsuit against another once a dispute arises, however, one should note that this process can be avoided.  While the courtroom is known to be the home of justice, it is not the only avenue from which litigating parties may get resolved.

Alternative dispute resolution (ADR), refers to several methods of resolving legal disputes outside the courtroom. Civil courts in Uganda encourage the use of court settlements to litigate parties at any time before a judgment is awarded by the court. Once parties opt to arbitrate or settle disputes through ADR, the court may halt proceedings to enable parties to examine their options. 

Credit: viamediationcentre

Peace can not be kept by force, it can only be achieved by understanding

Albert Einstein

There are ideally four methods of alternative dispute resolution. It should be noted that all these methods, though designed to achieve the same goal, are different. These methods are;

A) Negotiation
This is where parties meet to settle a dispute without a third party. Negotiations give parties to take the wheel and control the process coming to a resolution all on their own. It is quite informal, this leaves room for flexibility as litigating parties conclude.

B) Mediation
This form of ADR is controlled by a mediator. A mediator is an individual who has been trained to handle negotiations to help opposing parties work out a settlement that both parties can agree to. Mediation however leaves room for parties to also reject said agreement making this form of dispute resolution informal as well. 

C) Arbitration
Arbitration is formal negotiation and it is quite similar to a court proceeding with less dramatics. The arbitration proceedings are decided on by an arbitral panel or a single arbitrator depending on the agreement of the parties. Arbitration hearings take a few days, the panel will deliberate, after which issue a written binding decision called an arbitral award.

D) Conciliation
In this process, parties to a dispute use a conciliator whose aim is to meet each party separately and then together make an attempt to resolve their differences. Conciliation however has no legal standing, and the conciliator is under no obligation to write a decision or seek evidence in the matter.

 In such a hearing, parties are required to independently create a list of their desired outcomes from conciliation. The conciliator will then go back and forth encouraging each party to give their objectives one at a time. 

Credit: Law Always

With all these options, one might be curious to know why they should choose to settle their dispute through alternative dispute resolution. Here are a few reasons why this may be the best option for you;
i)  Parties have autonomy over their matters. ADR is private, this means that parties have the opportunity to control the outcome of their dispute coming to a conclusion that will leave both parties satisfied.

ii) It is cheap. While court proceedings can take years to come to an end, ADR doesn’t have that mishap. If parties are unable to agree they are allowed to pursue a resolution from a trial. ADR is cheaper, especially because it’s quicker.

iii) ADR proceedings are more private than a trial. When a court session is in progress, it is hard to limit the audience. ADR on the other hand emphasises the privacy of the parties and their discussions, resolutions are kept confidential. 

In Uganda, the Civil Procedure Rules under Order12, Rule 2 provides for Alternative Dispute Resolution, and the Judicature (Mediation) Rules of 2013 made mediation compulsory in all civil matters. 

I would advise every person to opt for ADR. I mean let’s leave Will Smithing people and deal with it all calmly. What say you?

The Law of the Mind

Everyone has created or has a friend or a friend of a friend who has created or invented something. These inventions and creations would otherwise be referred to as intellectual property. 

Intellectual property (IP) refers to creations of the mind, these include; inventions; literary and artistic works; designs; symbols, names, and images used in commerce. The law awards these individuals rights, these rights give the creator an exclusive right over the use of his/her creation for a certain period.

Intellectual property rights are categorised into two areas;
i) Copyright and rights related to copyright 
ii) Industrial Property

Credit: Unsplash

Intellectual Property is the oil of the 21st century.

Mark Getty

A. Copyright and rights related to copyright

If you have ever bought a book from a book store, the term copyright may not be new to you. It is usually embedded in the first leaflet of every literary work. However copyright is not limited to books alone, but any artistic work can be protected under copyright.

In simple terms, a copyright is a set of exclusive rights granted by a state to the creator of original work or their assignee for a limited period in exchange for public disclosure of the work. This right includes the right to copy, distribute and adapt the work. Copyright owners can license or permanently transfer or assign their exclusive rights to others. Copyright protects owners of rights in artistic works from those who may ‘copy.’

A created work is automatically protected by copyright as soon as it exists. However, there are conditions to this. The work must be original ( it must have been developed independently by its creator) and it must be expressed.

Once a piece of work is not original then there is no ground for it to be protected under copyright law. The word ‘original’ does not in this connection mean that the work must be the expression of original or inventive thought. but according to University of London Press Ltd Vs University Tutorial Press Ltd [1916] 2 Ch 601 UK, originality in copyright law does not require that the work be unique and novel but means that the author must have exercised some level of sufficient skill and labour.

Copyright protection in Uganda is governed by the Copyright and Neighbouring Rights Act, of 2006 and the Copyright and Neighbouring Rights Regulations of 2010.

Credit: Diala Law

B. Industrial property

The purpose of industrial property law is to protect inventions and industrial or commercial creative work.  Industrial property can be separated into two parts;
i) The first part is characterised as the protection of distinctive signs, in particular trademarks (which distinguish the goods or services of one undertaking from those of other undertakings) and geographical indications. A trademark identifies the brand owner of a particular product or service. 

The protection of such distinctive signs aims to stimulate and ensure fair competition and to protect consumers, by enabling them to make informed choices between various goods and services. The protection may last indefinitely, provided they sign in question continues to be distinctive. The perfect example of this can be the distinction between Pepsi and Cocacola.

ii) The second part of industrial property is protected primarily to stimulate innovation, design, and the creation of technology. In this category fall invention (protected by patents), industrial designs, and trade secrets. If you have ever been curious about the KFC chicken recipe, it would ideally fall under trade secrets in industrial property.

 A perfect example of this happened in 2013 when Century Bottling Company Limited (Coca-cola) filed a suit against Harris International, Riham Company over a trademark infringement. The dispute arose after Riham used a 500 ml Riham cola bottle shaped similar to Coca-Cola’s contour bottle, which is a registered trademark in Uganda. It was cited that the imitation would confuse the minds of consumers leading them to think that Riham is associated with coca-cola. The Coca-cola company, therefore, is the holder of the contour bottle shape. An imitation of it amounted to an infringement of their trademark. 

Credit: Mierespaza

So the question is what is your mind coming up with? What ideas or inventions have you dreamt up? And most especially how are you going to protect it?

How to know your family needs a lawyer?

If you are anything like me, you may be wondering what family law truly entails, after all, a family should be pretty simple. An “ideal family’ consists of a mother, father, and probably two children, however, we must note that most people in Uganda alone do not experience this particular form of family.

The Objective XIX of the National Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy in the 1995 Constitution of Uganda (as amended) defines a family as the natural and basic unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State and further goes on to highlight the rights a family has under Article 31.

Disagreements are common with every relationship and a family is no exception. Family Law can be defined as the portion of the law that governs the relationships between children and parents, and between adults in close emotional relationships.

Credit: Unsplash

Other things may change us, but we start and end with the family

Anthony Brandt

While family law in Uganda covers all aspects that concerns a family and all disputes that may arise in between, it is easy to think that Family Law is simply limited to marriage and succession.

Contrary to what many may think, there are so many parts of the law that can affect a family and its respective relationships ranging from land disputes to taxation. The trick to finding out whether your query or concern falls under this particular branch of law is pretty simple. Here are a few things that are tackled under family law.

Marriage

Marriage is one of the most common sections of family law. The 1995 Constitution of Uganda states that a person of the age of 18 years and above has a right to marry and found a family and the pair are entitled to equal rights in marriage, during the marriage, and at its dissolution.

The decision to marry is very separate from the decision to live together and bear children together. A legal marriage under the laws of Uganda offers a couple of different rights that simple cohabitation would not. These include a right to inheritance, property, and family maintenance.

These rights are only given when a couple has married under the acceptable and legal forms of marriage in Uganda.
These include;
I) Customary Marriage
II) Civil Marriage
III) Islamic Marriage

It is important to note that cohabitation (where man and woman live together without going through any of the legally recognised marriages) is not recognised as a valid form of marriage in Uganda.

Credit: Ntwaaka

Separation and Divorce

If you have gone through a divorce, you might have an inkling of what separation feels like. While the idea is that a couple will live happily ever after, the reality is that sometimes these relationships do not last. Now you may wonder what the difference between a separation and divorce is.

A separation does not end a marriage, but only suspends certain rights of the husband and the wife. The husband and wife are still considered to be married and neither of them can marry another person during the separation. In modern terms, a separation would be considered as ‘taking a break.’

A divorce on the other hand is a permanent dissolution of a marriage. It only applies to legally recognised marriages and its procedure depends on the type of marriage the parties had.

Whether a couple chooses a divorce or a separation, a permanent or temporary ending of a relationship can be a painful process especially if children are involved. In divorce proceedings more specifically, the custody of children and dissolution of property is up for discussion.

Credit: Usatoday

Custody and Maintenance

Children are a blessing to any family, this being so, they are one subject that is bound to be contentious. Article 257(c) of the Constitution and Section 2 of the Children ActCap 59 defines a child as a person below the age of eighteen years. This being said, family law will encompass all aspects of a child’s well-being, this includes custody and maintenance of a child.

Custody concerns the legal rules governing the right of children regarding whom to live with and maintenance is the right children have to know and be cared for by their parents or those entitled by law to bring them up. This is a question that will arise during a separation or divorce.

Credit: ACERWC

Adoption

Adoptions refer to the legal and formal acceptance of another’s natural or biological child as their own, with the same rights and responsibilities attached thereto as if the child were your natural child, both in terms of child support and standing in intestates. This section is self-explanatory.

To adopt a child however comes with several prerequisites which include:
I) Age of applicant
II) Spousal consent
III) sex of the applicant

Of course, the dynamics of adoption are quite wide but in case you are looking to give a child a new home, a family lawyer would be the best person to hire.

Credit: Pagesix- Angelina Jolie and her adopted child, Zahara

Succession

Death is inevitable, and so the law of succession deals with the devolution and transmission of the estate of a deceased person. There are three types of succession under the law;

I) Testate succession which means the deceased left a will and valid testament of dissolution of their property.
II) Intestate succession where the deceased died without a will.
III) Partly testate and partly intestate succession.

In situations where there is a will, a will’s validity may be contested. It is easy to think that once a deceased has left instructions, then the rest would be smooth sailing. Unfortunately, if this was the case then we would be out of business.

It is all about a better measure for family!

How to start a business in Uganda

If the last three years have taught us anything, it is that we cannot survive on the basic 9 to 5. As you came to this realisation, you have dabbled with the idea of starting a business. If you have, then this is for you. Starting a business in Uganda is easier said than it is done, and while most Ugandans are quick to venture into business, they are oblivious to what they need to get their business off the ground.

Business law is the section of the law that will guide you on how to form and run your business. This guide includes all of the laws that govern how to start, buy, manage and close or sell any type of business in Uganda. Here are a few steps to help:

“A big business starts small.”

Richard Branson

1. Reserving a business name

To start a business, you will need one thing, a business name. It is not enough to name your business after your firstborn daughter, getting a name for your business involves action more than it does speech. Registering a business is the most important step to starting your business. To do this, one must reserve their name with the Office of the Registrar.

The reason this is done is to make sure that your company/business name is available. It is important to reserve a minimum of three names just in case a name that you choose is unavailable. The Registrar will then review the application and, if the application is approved, returns it with the assessment, which the business owner takes to the bank.

Upon paying the fee, the founder receives a receipt that is used to complete the name reservation. The public body responsible for this process is the Uganda Registration Service Bureau (URSB).

2. Register to receive a Certificate of Incorporation

Once one has reserved a name, one is required to register to receive a Certificate of Incorporation, this is still done through the URSB. The requirements for this include company books, memorandum and articles of association, declaration of companies using forms S18, A1, Form 20 and Form 18 in addition to the company resolutions. There is a stamp duty awarded on most of these documents.

3. Register for a Tax Identification Number

Contrary to what one may think, there are no charges included when applying for a TIN, the application for a TIN is done through the Uganda Revenue authority, and can be done online through Uganda Revenue Authority.

4. Get yourself a trading licence

It is no secret that there are thousands of businesses located in various districts of Uganda. A trading licence gives businesses the green light to trade within their respective municipal authorities. The perfect example is businesses located in Kampala are required to register with Kampala City Council Authority (KCCA) to obtain trading licences. 

The charges here will depend on the nature and grade of business one is operating. For a company to be fully registered and qualify for a trading licence, a memorandum and articles of association, Form 7 showing the names of the directors, a certificate of incorporation and a lease or tenancy agreement are required.

5. Register with the National Social Security Fund (NSSF)

If you are planning on having more than 5 employees, this is a step that is not wise to ignore. A business is obliged to pay NSSF of 10% to their employees through their various social security accounts. 

As you may have noticed, there is a lot of paperwork involved in starting your business, sometimes it can be quite overwhelming. Do not be discouraged, there’s an option of reaching out to a lawyer for help. That is where we come in, contact us on +256 0393 228 339 for any questions and guidance on how to start your business.