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Uganda: Lawyers with foreign degrees free to practise here – judges

Kampala. In a landmark judgment, the High Court has ordered the Uganda Law Council (ULC) to register all Ugandans who obtained law degrees outside the country to enable them practice law like their counterparts who study here as long as they meet other requirements.

A panel of three justices on Friday observed that many Ugandans study law outside the country since Law Development Centre (LDC) and other universities cannot absorb all law students.

The judges, therefore, ruled that such graduates should not be discriminated when they apply to be enrolled on the Roll of Advocates upon their return from studies.

“In today’s world, the Uganda Law Council needs to be alive to the fact that many Ugandans study law degrees out of the country, not because there are intellectually incompetent but simply because the numbers of students who qualify are many for the universities and the LDC to accommodate.

There is, therefore, need for the Law Council not to unfairly discriminate these students in comparison to those who study in Uganda,” the panel of judges ruled.

The justices are Henrietta Wolayo, Lydia Mugambe and Musa Ssekaana.
“Before we take leave of this case, we wish to emphasise that Sections 8 (9) and 8 (13) of the Advocates Act 2002 require the Law Council to enact regulations for the purposes of regularising the qualification of

applicants to be entered on the Roll of Advocates. However, we note that the Law Council has not made any of these regulations to date,” the jurists stated.

They added: “This has created a spiral of confusion and uncertainty where Ugandans who obtain degrees outside Uganda or who fail to be admitted for the Bar Course at LDC after obtaining degrees in Uganda are left languishing on the streets without a chance of admissibility to be entered on the Roll of Advocates.”

The land mark judgment followed an application for review filed by Mr Tony Katungi. Mr Katungi obtained a law degree at Uganda Christian University, Mukono in 2011 but went to Kenya where he studied the post-graduate diploma in law.

He said in 2013, he completed his Bar Course training at the Kenya Law School and was admitted to the Kenyan Bar in 2014 as an advocate of the High Court.

However, when he returned to Uganda and applied to ULC for a certificate of eligibility for enrolment as an advocate, he was denied the certificate on grounds that he needed to redo a one-year practice at the Justice Centers Uganda.

Delivering their ruling on Friday, the justices reasoned that the Uganda Law Council should be alive to the East African Community federation, which requires Uganda to harmonise its national laws.

The judges ordered ULC to issue him a certificate of eligibility within 30 days from the date of the court ruling and also make the required regulations by December 15 and report back to court.

The justices, however, declined to award him damages on grounds that this was a public interest case that was affecting all Ugandans who qualified outside Uganda to practice law but were or would be denied.

By Daily Monitor

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