THE REPUBLIC OF UGANDA
IN THE HIGH COURT OF UGANDA AT KAMPALA
(COMMERCIAL COURT DIVISION)
1. BAZIRA SAM AND JOSEPH ODOI OCHIENG :::::::: PLAINTIFFS
2. JOSEPH ODOI OCHIENG
CONTAINER FREIGHT LTD ::::::::::::::::::::::: DEFENDANT
R U L I N G:
I have addressed my mind to the arguments of both counsel.
It is trite that parties cannot confer jurisdiction on a Court which lacks jurisdiction. They can only choose any one of the Courts simultaneously having jurisdiction over the matter. Section 15 of the Civil Procedure Act confers jurisdiction on our Courts according to (a) the place where the contract was made; (b) the place where the contract was to be performed; and (c) where the defendant voluntarily resides, carries on business or personally works for gain.
In the instant suit, the parties are not agreed as to where the contract was made. It appears to be a case of e-commerce where deals are negotiated and concluded on internet. Be that as it may, in suits arising out of contract, the law is clear, under section 15 of the Civil Procedure Act, that the cause of action arises within the meaning of that law at any of the following places:
(i) the place where the contract was made;
Learned counsel for the defendant submitted that the plaintiffs had opted to file the suit in Kenya where they issued a notice of the intended suit to them in Kenya. That the defendants may end up facing a similar suit in Kenya. Learned counsel for the defendant has assured this Court that there is no pending suit in any Kenyan Court by the plaintiffs against the defendant; that none has ever been filed there; and none is intended to be filed there. There is no reason for me to doubt his assurances on the matter. Likewise, if the defendants want to file Third Party Notice against any body, there is no evidence that such a person cannot be impleaded in our Courts. As for witnesses, the fact that most are in Kenya cannot be enough ground to oust the jurisdiction of the Ugandan Court. The remedy for that would be an award for costs to the deserving party.
For the reasons stated above, I would over rule the objection and order that the suit proceeds to the next stage of scheduling. I do so. Costs shall abide the outcome of the suit.
J U D G E
Order: This ruling shall be delivered on my behalf by the Registrar of the Court on the due date.
J U D G E