- Is amended by Magistrates’ Courts (Amendment) Act, 2007
- Is amended by Persons with Disabilities Act, 2020
Magistrates Courts Act
- Commenced on 22 January 1971
- [This is the version of this document from 14 February 2020.]
- [Note: The version of the Act as at 31 December 2000 was revised and consolidated by the Law Reform Commission of Uganda. All subsequent amendments have been researched and applied by Laws.Africa for ULII.]
- [Amended by Magistrates’ Courts (Amendment) Act, 2007 (Act 7 of 2007) on 17 August 2007]
- [Amended by Persons with Disabilities Act, 2020 (Act 3 of 2020) on 14 February 2020]
Part I – Interpretation
Part II – Establishment of magistrates courts, appointment of magistrates and law to be administered
2. Magisterial areasThe Minister may, after consultation with the Chief Justice, by statutory instrument divide Uganda into magisterial areas for the purposes of this Act.
3. Establishment and style of magistrates courtsThere shall be established in such places in each magisterial area as the Minister may, after consultation with the Chief Justice, by statutory instrument designate magistrates courts to be known as the magistrates court for the area in respect of which it has jurisdiction.
4. Appointment and grades of magistrates
5. Constitution of courtsA magistrate’s court shall be deemed to be duly constituted when presided over by any one magistrate lawfully empowered to adjudicate in the court.
6. Assignment of magistratesEvery magistrate appointed under this Act shall be deemed to have been appointed to, and have jurisdiction in, each and every magisterial area but may be assigned to any particular magisterial area or to a part of any magisterial area by the Chief Justice.
7. Place of sitting
8. Chief registrar and registrar
9. How general jurisdiction exercisedThe jurisdiction of a magistrate’s court shall, subject to this Act and any other written law limiting or otherwise relating to the jurisdiction of that court or of the presiding magistrate, be exercised in conformity with the law with which the High Court is required to conform in exercising its jurisdiction by the Judicature Act.
10. Civil customary law and its application
11. Law and equity
Part III – Prevention of offences
12. Security for keeping the peace
13. Security for good behaviour from persons disseminating seditious and other mattersWhenever a chief magistrate or a magistrate grade I has information that there is within the limits of his or her jurisdiction any person who, within or without those limits, either orally or in writing or in any other manner—
14. Security for good behaviour from vagrants and suspected personsWhenever a chief magistrate or a magistrate grade I receives information—
15. Security for good behaviour from habitual offendersWhenever a chief magistrate or a magistrate grade I receives information that any person within the local limits of his or her jurisdiction—
16. Order to be madeWhen a magistrate acting under section 12, 13, 14 or 15 deems it necessary to require any person to show cause under such section, the magistrate shall make an order in writing setting forth—
17. Procedure in respect of person present in courtIf the person in respect of whom that order is made is present in court, it shall be read over to him or her, or, if he or she so desires, the substance of the order shall be explained to him or her.
18. Summons or warrant in case of person not so present
19. Copy of order under section 16 to accompany summons or warrantEvery summons or warrant issued under section 18 shall be accompanied by a copy of the order made under section 16, and that copy shall be delivered by the officer serving or executing the summons or warrant to the person served with or arrested under it.
20. Power to dispense with personal attendanceThe magistrate may, if he or she sees sufficient cause, dispense with the personal attendance of any person called upon to show cause why he or she should not be ordered to execute a bond for keeping the peace, and may permit the person to appear by an advocate.
21. Inquiry as to truth of information
22. Order to give security
23. Discharge of person informed againstIf, on an inquiry under section 21, it is not proved that it is necessary for keeping the peace or maintaining good behaviour, as the case may be, that the person in respect of whom the inquiry is made should execute a bond, the magistrate shall make an entry on the record to that effect, and, if that person is in custody only for the purposes of the inquiry, shall release him or her, or, if that person is not in custody, shall discharge him or her.
24. Commencement of period for which security is required
25. Contents of bond
26. Power to reject sureties
27. Procedure on failure of person to give security
28. Power to release persons imprisoned for failure to give securityWhenever a chief magistrate or magistrate grade I is of the opinion that any person imprisoned for failing to give security may be released without hazard to the community, the magistrate may, if he or she thinks fit, order that person to be discharged.
29. Power of High Court to cancel bondThe High Court may at any time, for sufficient reasons to be recorded in writing, cancel any bond for keeping the peace or for good behaviour executed under any of the preceding sections by order of any court.
30. Discharge of sureties
Part IV – Place of criminal trials
31. General authority of magistrates courtsEvery magistrate’s court has authority to cause to be brought before it any person who is within the local limits of its jurisdiction and is charged with an offence committed within Uganda, or which according to law may be dealt with as if it had been committed within Uganda, and to deal with the accused person according to its jurisdiction.
32. Accused person to be sent to area where offence committedWhere a person accused of having committed an offence within Uganda has escaped or is removed from the area within which the offence was committed and is found within another area, the magistrate’s court within whose jurisdiction the person is found shall cause him or her to be brought before it and shall, unless authorised to proceed in the case, send the person in custody to the court within whose jurisdiction the offence is alleged to have been committed, or require the person to give security for his or her surrender to that court there to answer the charge and to be dealt with according to law.
33. Removal of accused person under warrant
34. Ordinary place of trialSubject to the provisions relating to transfer conferred by this Act, every offence shall ordinarily be inquired into or tried by a court within the local limits of whose jurisdiction it was committed.
35. Trial at place where act done or consequence of offence ensuesWhen a person is accused of the commission of any offence by reason of anything which has been done or of any consequence which has ensued, the offence may be inquired into or tried by a court within the local limits of whose jurisdiction any such thing has been done or any such consequence has ensued.
36. Trial where offence is connected with another offenceWhen an act is an offence by reason of its relation to any other act which is also an offence or which would be an offence if the doer were capable of committing an offence, a charge of the first-mentioned offence may be inquired into or tried by a court within the local limits of whose jurisdiction either act was done.
37. Trial where place of offence is uncertainWhen—
38. Offence committed on a journey, etc.An offence committed while the offender is in the course of performing a journey, voyage or flight may be inquired into or tried by a court through or into the local limits of whose jurisdiction the offender or the person against whom or the thing in respect of which the offence was committed passed in the course of that journey, voyage or flight.
39. High Court to decide in cases of doubt
40. Court to be open
41. Power of High Court to change venue
Part V – Institution of criminal proceedings
42. Institution of proceedings
43. Control over private prosecutions
Part VI – Summons
44. Form and contents of summons
45. Service of summons
46. Service when person cannot be foundWhere the person summoned cannot, by the exercise of due diligence, be found, the summons may be served by leaving the duplicate for the person with some adult member of his or her family or with his or her servant residing with him or her or with his or her employer; and the person with whom the summons is so left shall, if so required by the serving officer, sign a receipt for it on the back of the original summons.
47. Procedure when service cannot be effectedIf service in the manner provided by sections 45 and 46 cannot, by the exercise of due diligence, be effected, the serving officer shall affix the duplicate of the summons to some conspicuous part of the house or homestead in which the person summoned ordinarily resides, and thereupon the summons shall be deemed to have been duly served.
48. Service on servant of government, etc.
49. Service on companyService of a summons on an incorporated company or other body corporate may be effected by serving it on the secretary, local manager or other principal officer of the corporation or by registered letter addressed to the chief officer of the corporation at the registered office of the company or body corporate in Uganda. In the latter case service shall be deemed to have been effected when the letter would arrive in the ordinary course of post.
50. Where summons may be servedA summons may be served at any place in Uganda.
51. Proof of service when serving officer not present
52. Power to dispense with personal attendance of accused
53. Appearance by a corporation
Part VII – Warrant of arrest
54. Warrant after issue of summonsNotwithstanding the issue of a summons, a warrant may be issued at any time before or after the time appointed in the summons for the appearance of the accused.
55. Disobedience of summons
56. Form, contents and duration of warrant of arrest
57. Court may direct security to be taken
58. Warrants, to whom directed
59. Warrants may be directed to landholders, etc.
60. Execution of warrant directed to police officerA warrant directed to a police officer may also be executed by any other police officer whose name is endorsed upon the warrant by the officer to whom it is directed or endorsed, and similarly, a warrant directed to a chief may be executed by any other chief whose name is endorsed on the warrant by the chief to whom it was directed or endorsed.
61. Procedure on execution of warrantThe police officer or other person executing a warrant of arrest shall notify the substance of the warrant to the person to be arrested, and, if so required, shall show him or her the warrant and shall (subject to section 57 as to security) without unnecessary delay bring the person arrested before the court before which he or she is required by law to produce that person.
62. Where warrant of arrest may be executedA warrant of arrest may be executed at any place in Uganda.
63. Procedure on arrest of person outside jurisdiction
64. Irregularities in warrantAny irregularity or defect in the substance or form of a warrant, and any variance between it and the written complaint or information, or between either and the evidence produced on the part of the prosecution at any inquiry or trial, shall not affect the validity of any proceedings at or subsequent to the hearing of the case; but if any such variance appears to the court to be such that the accused has been deceived or misled by the variance, the court may, at the request of the accused, adjourn the hearing of the case to some future date and in the meantime remand the accused or admit him or her to bail.
65. Power to take bond for appearanceWhere any person for whose appearance or arrest a magistrate is empowered to issue a summons or warrant is present in court, the magistrate may require that person to execute a bond, with or without sureties, for his or her appearance in the court.
66. Arrest for breach of bond for appearanceWhen any person who is bound by any bond taken under this Act to appear before a court does not so appear, the magistrate presiding in that court may issue a warrant directing that that person be arrested and produced before him or her.
67. Power of court to order prisoner to be brought before it
68. Provisions of this part in relation to summonses and warrants to be generally applicableThe provisions contained in this Part of this Act relating to a summons and warrant, and their issue, service and execution, shall, so far as may be, apply to every summons and every warrant of arrest issued under this Act or by a justice of the peace, and, except insofar as those provisions may be inconsistent with any other law, the powers of a magistrate or court in relation to the issuing or endorsing of a summons or warrant may be exercised by a justice of the peace.
Part VIII – Searches and search warrants
69. Search of premises of arrested personsWhen a police officer has reason to believe that material evidence can be obtained in connection with an offence for which an arrest has been made or authorised, any police officer may search the dwelling or place of business of the person so arrested or of the person for whom the warrant of arrest has been issued and may take possession of anything which might reasonably be used as evidence in any criminal proceedings.
70. Power to issue search warrantWhere it is proved on oath to a magistrate’s court that in fact or according to reasonable suspicion anything upon, by or in respect of which an offence has been committed or anything which is necessary to the conduct of an investigation into any offence is in any building, vessel, carriage, box, receptacle or place, the court may by warrant (called a search warrant) authorise the person to whom the warrant is directed to search the building, vessel, carriage, box, receptacle or place (which shall be named or described in the warrant) for any such thing and, if anything searched for is found, to seize it and carry it before the court issuing the warrant or some other court to be dealt with according to law.
71. Execution of search warrantEvery search warrant may be issued and executed on a Sunday, and shall be executed between the hours of sunrise and sunset; but the court may, by the warrant, in its discretion, authorise the police officer or other person to whom it is addressed to execute it at any hour.
72. Persons in charge of closed place to allow ingress
73. Detention of property seized
74. Provisions applicable to search warrantsSections 56(1) and (3), 58, 60 and 62 shall, so far as may be, apply to all search warrants issued under section 70.
Part IX – Provisions as to bail
75. Release on bail
76. Restriction on period of pretrial remandIf an accused person has been remanded in custody before his or her trial commences—
77. Considerations for bail
78. Deposit instead of recognisanceWhen any person is required by any court or officer to execute a bond, with or without sureties, that court or officer may (except in the case of a bond for good behaviour) permit that person—
79. Power to order sufficient bail when that first taken is insufficientIf, through mistake, fraud or otherwise, insufficient sureties have been accepted, or if they afterwards become insufficient, the court may issue a warrant of arrest directing that the person released on bail be brought before it, and may order him or her to find sufficient sureties, and on his or her failing so to do may commit him or her to prison.
80. Discharge of sureties
81. Death of suretyWhere a surety to a bond dies before the bond is forfeited, his or her estate shall be discharged from all liability in respect of the bond, but the party who gave the bond may be required to find a new surety.
82. Persons bound by recognisance absconding may be committedIf it is made to appear to any magistrate’s court, by information on oath, that any person bound by recognisance is about to leave Uganda, the court may cause that person to be arrested and may commit him or her to prison until the trial or inquiry, unless the court shall see fit to admit him or her to bail upon further recognisance.
83. Forfeiture of recognisance
84. Appeal from and revision of ordersAll orders passed under the provisions of section 83 by any magistrate shall be appealable to and may be revised by the High Court.
Part X – Charges
85. Contents of chargeEvery charge shall contain, and shall be sufficient if it contains, a statement of the specific offence or offences with which the accused person is charged, together with such particulars as may be necessary for giving reasonable information as to the nature of the offence charged.
86. Joinder of counts
87. Joinder of personsThe following persons may be joined in one charge and may be tried together—
88. Rules for framing of chargesThe following provisions shall apply to all charges and, notwithstanding any rule of law or practice, a charge shall, subject to this Act, not be open to objection in respect of its form or content if it is framed in accordance with this Act—
Part XI – Previous conviction or acquittal
89. Persons convicted or acquitted not to be tried again for same offenceA person who has been once tried by a court of competent jurisdiction for an offence and convicted or acquitted of that offence shall, while that conviction or acquittal has not been reversed or set aside, not be liable to be tried again on the same facts for the same offence.
90. Persons may be tried again for separate offenceA person convicted or acquitted of any offence may afterwards be tried for any other offence with which he or she might have been charged on the former trial under section 86(1).
91. Consequences supervening or not known at time of former trialA person convicted or acquitted of any act causing consequences which together with that act constitute a different offence from that for which the person was convicted or acquitted may be afterwards tried for the last-mentioned offence, if the consequences had not happened or were not known to the court to have happened at the time when he or she was acquitted or convicted.
92. Where original court was not competent to try subsequent chargeA person convicted or acquitted of any offence constituted by any acts may, notwithstanding the conviction or acquittal, be subsequently charged with and tried for any other offence constituted by the same acts which he or she may have committed, if the court by which he or she was first tried was not competent to try the offence with which he or she is subsequently charged.
93. Previous conviction or acquittal, how proved
Part XII – Witnesses and evidence
94. Summons for witness
95. Warrant for witness who disobeys summonsIf, without sufficient excuse, a witness does not appear in obedience to the summons, the court, on proof of the proper service of the summons a reasonable time before, may issue a warrant to bring the witness before the court at such time and place as shall be specified in the warrant.
96. Warrant for witness in first instanceIf the court is satisfied by evidence on oath that such person will not attend unless compelled to do so, it may at once issue a warrant for the arrest and production of the witness before the court at a time and place to be specified in the warrant.
97. Mode of dealing with witness arrested under warrantWhen any witness is arrested under a warrant the court may, on the witness furnishing security by recognisance to the satisfaction of the court for his or her appearance at the hearing of the case, order him or her to be released from custody, or shall on the witness failing to furnish that security, order him or her to be detained for production at the hearing.
98. Power of court to order prisoner to be brought up for examination
99. Penalty for nonattendance of witness
100. Power to summon material witnesses or examine person presentAny magistrate’s court may, at any stage of any trial or other proceeding under this Act, summon or call any person as a witness, or examine any person in attendance though not summoned as a witness, or recall and reexamine any person already examined, and the court shall summon and examine or recall and reexamine any such person if that person’s evidence appears to it essential to the just decision of the case; but the prosecutor or the advocate for the prosecution or the defendant or his or her advocate shall have the right to cross-examine any such person, and the court shall adjourn the case for such time, if any, as it thinks necessary to enable that cross-examination to be adequately prepared if, in its opinion, either party may be prejudiced by the calling of any such person as a witness.
101. Evidence to be given on oath
102. Refractory witnesses
103. Reports by Government analysts and geologists
104. Power to take evidence of witnesses in absence of the accused
105. Issue of commission for examination of witness
106. Parties may examine witnesses
107. Power of magistrate to apply for issue of commissionWhenever in the course of any proceeding under this Act before any magistrate, other than a chief magistrate, empowered to hold a magistrate’s court, it appears that a commission ought to be issued for the examination of a witness whose evidence is necessary for the ends of justice, and that the attendance of that witness cannot be procured without an amount of delay, expense or inconvenience which, in the circumstances of the case, would be unreasonable, the magistrate shall apply to a chief magistrate empowered to hold a magistrate’s court stating the reasons for the application; and a chief magistrate empowered to hold a magistrate’s court may either issue a commission in the manner hereinbefore provided or reject the application.
108. Return of commission
109. Adjournment of trial for execution and return of commissionIn every case in which a commission is issued under section 105 or 107, the proceeding may be adjourned for a specified time reasonably sufficient for the execution and return of the commission.
110. Competency of accused as witnessEvery person charged with an offence shall be a competent witness for the defence at every stage of the proceedings, whether the person so charged is charged solely or jointly with any other person; except that—
111. Procedure when person charged is the only witness calledWhere the only witness to the facts of the case called by the defence is the person charged, he or she shall be called as a witness immediately after the close of the evidence for the prosecution.
112. Right of replyIn cases where the right of reply depends upon the question whether evidence has been called for the defence, the fact that the person charged has been called as a witness shall not of itself confer on the prosecution the right of reply; except that the Attorney General or Solicitor General when appearing personally as advocate for the prosecution shall, in all cases, have the right of reply.
Part XIII – Procedure in case of the insanity or other incapacity of an accused person
113. Inquiry by court as to insanity of accused
114. Procedure when accused certified as capable of making a defence
115. Resumption of trial or investigation
116. Defence of insanity at preliminary proceedingsWhen the accused appears to be of sound mind at the time of preliminary proceedings, the court, notwithstanding that it is alleged that at the time when the act was committed, in respect of which the accused person is charged, he or she was by reason of unsoundness of mind incapable of knowing the nature of the act or that it was wrong or contrary to law, shall proceed with proceedings and shall commit the accused for trial.
117. Defence of insanity on trial
118. Procedure when accused does not understand proceedings
Part XIV – Provisions relating to the hearing and determination of criminal cases
119. Nonappearance of complainant at hearing
120. Appearance of both partiesIf at the time appointed for the hearing of the case both the prosecutor and the accused person appear before the court which is to hear and determine the charge, or if the prosecutor appears and the personal attendance of the accused person has been dispensed with under section 52, the court shall proceed to hear the case.
121. Withdrawal from prosecution in trials before magistrates courtsIn any proceeding before a magistrate’s court the prosecutor may, with the consent of the court or on the instructions of the Director of Public Prosecutions, at any time before judgment is pronounced, withdraw from the prosecution of any person; and upon that withdrawal—
123. Trial of accused in his or her absence
124. Accused to be called upon to plead
125. Nonappearance of accused in petty cases
126. Procedure on plea of not guilty
127. Discharge of accused person when no case to answerIf at the close of the evidence in support of the charge it appears to the court that a case is not made out against the accused person sufficiently to require him or her to make a defence, the court shall dismiss the case and shall forthwith acquit him or her.
129. Hostile witnessWhere the court declares that a witness called by a party is hostile to that party (whether because his or her testimony in court conflicts with any statement he or she has made during the police investigation or for any other reason), it may permit the party to conduct the examination-in-chief by that party as if it were a cross-examination and may determine the order of the witness’ examination by the other parties.
130. Evidence in replyIf the accused person adduces evidence in his or her defence introducing new matter which the prosecutor could not by the exercise of reasonable diligence have foreseen, the court may allow the prosecutor to adduce evidence in reply to contradict the new matter.
131. Opening and close of case for prosecution and defence
132. Amendment of charges
134. Drawing up conviction or order
135. Mode of delivering judgment
136. Form and contents of judgment
137. Evidence to be taken in presence of accusedExcept as otherwise expressly provided, all evidence taken in any proceedings under this Act shall be taken in the presence of the accused, or, when his or her personal attendance has been dispensed with, in the presence of his or her advocate, if any.
138. Record of evidence in magistrates courts
139. Interpretation of evidence to accused or his or her advocate
140. Interpretation of documentsWhen documents are put in for the purpose of formal proof, it shall be in the discretion of the court to interpret as much of the documents as appears necessary.
141. Age and demeanour of witnessA magistrate shall record the sex and approximate age of each witness and may also record such remarks, if any, as he or she thinks material respecting the demeanour of the witness while under examination.
142. Procedure in case of minor offences
143. Procedure in trial of petty cases
144. Conviction or commitment on evidence partly recorded by one magistrate and partly by another
145. Person charged may be convicted of a minor offenceWhen a person is charged with an offence and facts are proved which reduce it to a minor cognate offence, he or she may be convicted of the minor offence although he or she was not charged with it.
146. Conviction for attemptWhen a person is charged with an offence, he or she may be convicted of having attempted to commit that offence, although he or she was not charged with the attempt.
147. Conviction for being an accessory after the factWhen a person is charged with an offence, he or she may be convicted of being an accessory after the fact to the commission of the offence although he or she was not so charged.
148. Convictions in respect of charges relating to death of child
149. Person charged with manslaughter may be convicted of certain traffic offencesWhen a person is charged with manslaughter in connection with the driving of a motor vehicle by him or her and the court is of opinion that he or she is not guilty of that offence but is guilty of an offence under section 2, 3 or 4 of the Traffic and Road Safety Act, 1970, he or she may be convicted of one of those offences although he or she was not charged with them, whether or not the requirements of section 159 of the Traffic and Road Safety Act, 1998, (relating to notice of prosecutions) have been satisfied as regards any such offence.
150. Persons charged with rape may be convicted under section 128, 129, 132 or 149 of the penal code actWhen a person is charged with rape and the court is of opinion that he is not guilty of that offence, but that he commits an offence under one of section 128, 129, 132 or 149 of the Penal Code Act, he may be convicted of that offence although he was not charged with it.
151. Person charged with incest may be convicted of unlawful carnal knowledgeWhen a person is charged with an offence under section 149 of the Penal Code Act and the court is of opinion that he is not guilty of that offence, but that he committed an offence under section 129 or 130 of the Penal Code Act, he may be convicted of that offence although he was not charged with it.
152. Person charged with defilement of a girl under fourteen years of age may be convicted of an offence under section 128 or 132 of the Penal Code ActWhen a person is charged with the defilement of a girl under the age of fourteen years and the court is of opinion that he is not guilty of that offence, but that he committed an offence under section 128 or 132 of the Penal Code Act, he may be convicted of that offence although he was not charged with it.
153. Person charged with burglary may be convicted of kindred offenceWhen a person is charged with an offence under section 295, 296, 297, 298 or 300 of the Penal Code Act and the court is of opinion that he or she is not guilty of that offence, but that he or she committed an offence under any other of the sections, he or she may be convicted of that other offence although he or she was not charged with it.
154. Person charged with stealing may be convicted of receiving or retaining or obtaining by false pretences or possessing or conveying stolen property
155. Person charged with obtaining by false pretences may be convicted of stealingWhen a person is charged with obtaining anything capable of being stolen by false pretences with intent to defraud, and it is proved that he or she stole the thing, he or she may be convicted of the offence of stealing although he or she was not charged with it.
156. Construction of sections 145 to 155The provisions of sections 145 to 155 shall be construed as in addition to and not in derogation of the provisions of any other written law and the other provisions of this Act, and the provisions of sections 146 to 155 shall be construed as being without prejudice to the generality of the provisions of section 145.
157. Person charged with misdemeanour not to be acquitted if felony provedIf on any trial for a misdemeanour the facts proved in evidence amount to a felony, the accused shall not be therefore acquitted of the misdemeanour; and no person tried for such misdemeanour shall be liable afterwards to be prosecuted for a felony on the same facts, unless the court before which the trial may be had shall think fit, in its discretion, to refrain from recording a finding upon the trial, and to direct the person to be prosecuted for felony, in which case the person may be dealt with in all respects as if he or she had not been put upon his or her trial for the misdemeanour.
158. Right of accused to be defendedAny person accused of an offence before a magistrate’s court may of right be defended by an advocate.
159. Limitation of time for summary trials in certain casesExcept where a longer time is specially allowed by law, no offence, the maximum punishment for which does not exceed imprisonment for six months or a fine of one thousand shillings, shall be triable by a magistrate’s court, unless the charge or complaint relating to it is laid within twelve months from the time when the matter of the charge or complaint arose.
160. ReconciliationIn criminal cases, a magistrate’s court may promote reconciliation, and encourage and facilitate the settlement in an amicable way, of proceedings for assault, or for any other offence of a personal or private nature, not amounting to felony and not aggravated in degree, in terms of payment of compensation or other terms approved by the court, and may, thereupon, order the proceedings to be stayed.
Part XV – Criminal jurisdiction of magistrates courts
161. Criminal jurisdiction of magistrates
162. Sentencing powers of magistrates
163. Preventive detention
164. Committal for sentence
165. Powers of sentencing courtWhere an offender has been committed for sentence to a court under the provisions of section 164, the court shall inquire into the circumstances of the case and shall, subject to any limitation in any written law, have power to deal with the offender as if he or she had been convicted by that court.
166. Power of magistrate to remand for lack of jurisdictionWhere a charge has been brought against a person in a court having no jurisdiction to try the offence with which he or she is charged, the magistrate shall remand the accused person in custody to appear before a court having jurisdiction to try that offence.
167. Power to transfer case to superior courtIf a person is charged with an offence before a magistrate’s court and it appears to the Director of Public Prosecutions at any stage of the proceedings that the case is one that ought to be tried by a court superior to that magistrate’s court, the magistrate shall, on application made by or on behalf of the Director of Public Prosecutions before the close of the case for the prosecution, stop further proceedings and remand the accused person in custody to appear before a superior court.
168. Committal for trial by High Court
169. Director of Public Prosecutions to determine offences to be committed to High CourtSubject to section 168, for the avoidance of doubt it shall be within the discretion of the Director of Public Prosecutions which offences are to be proceeded with under section 168 for trial before the High Court or to be tried by a magistrate’s court; and trial by the High Court of an offence committed to that court under section 168 shall not be refused merely on the ground that a magistrate’s court has jurisdiction to try the offence.
170. Transfer of cases to chief magistrateIf, in the course of any trial before a magistrate’s court presided over by a magistrate, other than a chief magistrate, the evidence indicates that the case is one which should be tried by some other magistrate, he or she shall stop further proceedings and submit the case with a brief report on it to the chief magistrate having jurisdiction.
171. Power of chief magistrate to transfer casesA chief magistrate may—
172. Combination of sentencesA magistrate’s court may pass any lawful sentence combining any of the sentences which it is authorised by law to pass.
173. Sentences requiring confirmation
174. Release on bail pending confirmation
175. Sentences in cases of conviction of several offences at one trial
Part XVI – Provisions relating to sentences imposed by magistrates courts
176. Warrant in case of sentence of imprisonment
177. Prisons in which sentences of imprisonment may be served
178. Mitigation of penalties
179. ***[section 179 repealed by section 8 of Act 7 of 2007]
180. FinesWhere a fine is imposed by a magistrate’s court under any law, in fixing the amount of the fine, the court shall take into consideration among other things, the means of the offender so far as they are known to the court; and in the absence of express provisions relating to the fine in any such law, the following provisions shall apply—
|Not exceeding shs. 2,000||7 days|
|Exceeding shs. 2,000 but not exceeding shs. 10,000||1 month|
|Exceeding shs. 10,000 but not exceeding shs. 40,000||6 weeks|
|Exceeding shs. 40,000 but not exceeding shs. 100,000||3 months|
|Exceeding shs. 100,000||12 months|
181. Power to allow time to pay fine
182. Warrant for levy of fine, etc.
183. CommitmentIf the officer having the execution of a warrant of distress reports that he or she could find no property or not sufficient property on which to levy the money mentioned in the warrant with expenses, the court may issue such process as may be necessary for the appearance of the person against whom the order for payment was made and sentence him or her to imprisonment according to the scale prescribed by section 180.
184. Payment in full after commitmentAny person committed for nonpayment may pay the sum mentioned in the warrant, with the amount of expenses authorised in the warrant, if any, to the person in whose custody he or she is, and that person shall thereupon discharge him or her if he or she is in custody for no other matter.
185. Part payment after commitment
186. Sentence of imprisonment in lieu of distressWhen it appears to the court that distress and sale of property would be ruinous to the person ordered to pay the money or his or her family, or, by his or her confession or otherwise, that he or she has no property on which the distress may be levied, or for other sufficient reason, the court may if it thinks fit, instead of or after issuing a warrant of distress, issue such process as may be necessary for his or her appearance and sentence him or her to imprisonment according to the scale prescribed by section 180.
187. Objections to attachment
188. Who may issue warrantEvery warrant for the execution of any sentence may be issued either by the magistrate who passed the sentence or by his or her successor in office.
189. Limitation of imprisonmentNo commitment for nonpayment shall be for a longer period than twelve months, unless the law under which the conviction has taken place enjoins or allows a longer period.
190. Discharge of an offender without punishment
191. Security for coming up for judgment
192. Sentences cumulative unless otherwise ordered
193. Escaped convicts to serve unexpired sentences when recapturedWhen sentence is passed under this Act on an escaped convict, the sentence, if of fine or corporal punishment, shall, subject to this Act and any other law for the time being in force, take effect immediately, but if of imprisonment shall not take effect until the convict has served the period of imprisonment that remained unexpired at the date of his or her escape from prison.
194. Police supervision
Part XVII – Costs, compensation and restitution
195. Award of costs
196. Compensation in case of frivolous or vexatious chargeIf on the dismissal of any private prosecution by a magistrate’s court, the court shall be of opinion that the charge was frivolous or vexatious, the court may order the private prosecutor to pay to the accused person, in addition to his or her costs, a reasonable sum as compensation for the trouble and expense to which the person may have been put by reason of the charge.
197. Order for compensation for material loss or personal injury
198. Recovery of costs and compensation and imprisonment in default
199. Power of courts to award expenses or compensation out of fine
200. Property found on accused personWhere, upon the apprehension of a person charged with an offence, any property is taken from him or her, the magistrate’s court before which he or she is charged may order—
201. Property stolen
202. Order for disposal of certain property
203. Interpretation of “property” in sections 201 and 202In sections 201 and 202, “property” includes, in the case of property regarding which an offence appears to have been committed, not only such property as has been originally in the possession or under the control of any party, but also any property into or for which that property has been converted or exchanged and anything acquired by the conversion or exchange, whether immediately or otherwise.
Part XVIII – Criminal appeals
204. Criminal appeals
205. Bail pending appealAn appellant may, at any time before the determination of his or her appeal, apply for bail to the appellant court, and the appellant court may grant the bail.
Part XIX – Reservation of question of law
206. Reservation of question of law
Part XX – Civil jurisdiction of magistrates courts and provisions relating to the exercise of that jurisdiction
207. Civil jurisdiction of magistrates
208. Courts to try all civil suits unless barredEvery magistrate’s court shall, subject to this Act, have jurisdiction to try all suits of a civil nature excepting suits of which its cognisance is either expressly or impliedly barred; but every suit instituted in a magistrate’s court shall be instituted in the court of the lowest grade competent to try and determine it.
209. Stay of suitNo magistrate’s court shall proceed with the trial of any suit or proceeding in which the matter in issue is also directly and substantially in issue in a previously instituted suit or proceeding between the same parties, or between parties under whom they or any of them claim, litigating under the same title, where that suit or proceeding is pending in the same or any other court having original or appellate jurisdiction in Uganda to grant the relief claimed.
210. Res judicata
211. Bar to further suitWhere a plaintiff is precluded by rules from instituting a further suit in respect of any particular cause of action, he or she shall not be entitled to institute a suit in respect of such cause of action.
212. Suits to be instituted where subject matter situate
213. Suits for immovable property situate within jurisdiction of different courtsWhere a suit is to obtain relief respecting, or compensation for wrong to, immovable property situate within the jurisdiction of different courts, the suit may be instituted in any court within the local limits of whose jurisdiction any portion of the property is situate if in respect of the value of the subject matter of the suit, the entire claim is cognisable by that court.
214. Suits for compensation for wrongs to person or movablesWhere a suit is for compensation for wrong done to a person or to movable property, if the wrong was done within the local limits of the jurisdiction of one court and the defendant resides, or carries on business, or personally works for gain within the local limits of the jurisdiction of another court, the suit may be instituted at the option of the plaintiff in either of the courts.
215. Other suits to be instituted where defendants reside or cause of action arises
216. Objections to jurisdictionNo objection as to the place of suing shall be allowed on appeal unless the objection was taken in the court of first instance and unless there has been a consequent failure of justice.
217. Power to transfer suits which may be instituted in more than one courtWhere a suit may be instituted in any one of two or more courts and is instituted in one of those courts, any defendant after notice to the other parties, or the court of its own motion, may, at the earliest possible opportunity, apply to the High Court to have the suit transferred to another court; and the High Court after considering the objections, if any, shall determine in which of the several courts having jurisdiction the suit shall proceed.
218. Power of High Court to withdraw and transfer cases
219. Rules of court
Part XXI – Civil appeals
220. Civil appeals
Part XXII – Miscellaneous provisions
221. Supervisory powers of chief magistrates
222. Court seals
223. Power to appoint prosecutors
224. Powers of prosecutorsA public prosecutor may appear and plead without any written authority before any court in which any case of which he or she has charge is under trial or appeal; and if any private person instructs an advocate to prosecute in any such case, the public prosecutor may conduct the prosecution, and the advocate so instructed shall act in the case under his or her directions.
225. Obtaining copies or originals of documents in custody of bank
226. Permission to conduct prosecution
227. RulesThe Chief Justice may, by statutory instrument, make rules prescribing—
228. Power to amend schedulesThe Minister may, after consultation with the Chief Justice, by statutory instrument, amend the First, Second or Third Schedule to this Act.
229. Appeals under other written lawInsofar as the context allows, and notwithstanding the provisions of any written law in force on the date of the coming into force of this Act providing for an appeal to the High Court, those provisions shall be read as providing for an appeal to the appropriate court under this Act.
230. Relationship of Act to Criminal Procedure Code Act and Civil Procedure ActWhere this Act makes provision for any matter, so much of the Criminal Procedure Code Act and of the Civil Procedure Act as relates to the same matters shall cease to have effect in respect of magistrates courts.
History of this document
14 February 2020 this version
Amended by Persons with Disabilities Act, 2020
17 August 2007
22 January 1971
|Magistrates' Courts (Magisterial Areas) Instrument, 2017||Statutory Instrument 11 of 2017|