Karaka Vs Tiromwe (Civil Appeal No. 5 of 1975) [1976] UGHCCD 2 (10 November 1976)

Delict and Tort Law|Defamation
Case summary
The court held that the words uttered did not aver falsity or malice. Further it was found that the respondent failed to prove the defamatory meaning of the words.   The court therefore, found that the case did not disclose any cause of action.   The appeal was accordingly allowed with costs.


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Sira Karaka v. Adonia Tiromwe

(Civil Appeal No. 5 of 1975)


Civil Procedure - Plaint - Plaint in a defamation action did not allege persons to whom publication was made nor that the words uttered were false and published maliciously -­whether these matters are essential in pleadings - whether plaint bad in law - whether it disclosed any cause of action.

This was an appeal against the decision of Magistrate Grade 1 in a defamation action filed against the appellant. One of the grounds of appeal was that “The Magistrate erred in law to hear the case after rejecting the appellant’s application for rejecting the plaint which was bad in law and did not disclose any cause of action.”

The plaint contained only two paragraphs, namely the claim and the prayer. The first paragraph stated “The plaintiffs claim against the defendant is for general damages for slander in that on 21st day of December 1970 the defendant came into the plaintiffs home at Ntungamo village and in the presence of the plaintiffs family and other villagers the defendant defamed the plaintiff by saying that the plaintiff was a habitual thief and allowed mate Indian to commit unnatural sexual acts with him.”

The defendant in the 2nd paragraph averred that at the trial he would say that the plaint was bad in law and disclosed no cause of action. And in paragraph 5 said the words did ' not have a defamatory meaning.

Held: 1. In an action for defamation the plaint must contain among other averments (1) the allegation of publication and reference to the plaintiff. (2) the words complained of (3) the defamatory meaning.

  1. The persons to whom the words complained of were published should whenever possible, be included in the plaint. In the instant case although the plaintiff was in the position to name them he did not do so.

  2. In an action for slander it is necessary to prove the substance of the words alleged to have been uttered that they were false and published maliciously. The plaint in the instant case did not aver falsity or malice of the words used.

  3. It was incumbent upon the respondent to prove defamatory meaning of these words and their falsity and malice or to include detailed averment of the defamatory meanings which he alleged were borne by the words used.

  4. Although the action was actionable per se and no particulars of special damages were required to be averred, it as still necessary to give details of the defamatory meanings whether those meanings were inherent in the words or not.

  5. Since in the instant case the plaintiff failed to aver these essential matters in the pleadings, the plaint was bad in law and disclosed no cause of action.

Appeal allowed with costs.

Lubogo, J

November 10th, 1976

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