THE REPUBLIC OF UGANDA
IN THE HIGH COURT OF UGANDA AT KAMPALA
MISC. APPLICATION 814 OF 2012
(ARISING FROM HCCS 568 OF 2012)
NATIONAL SOCIAL SECURITY FUND …………………….. APPLICANT
JOSEPH B. BYAMUGISHA t/a
J.B. BYAMUGISHA ADVOCATES ……………………….. RESPONDENT
BEFORE HON. LADY JUSTICE FLAVIA SENOGA ANGLIN
This is an application for unconditional leave to appear and defend. It was filed way back in 2012.
The Respondent in the application seeks to recover taxed costs against the Applicant totaling to shs. 497,570,054/- with interest at the rate of 6% per annum from 12.07.11.
The application has come up for hearing several times when it has been adjourned for reasons appearing on record, including giving the parties a chance to settle the matter.
ON 27.05.14, when the matter was called, it was adjourned to 19.06.14 to enable parties try and conclude talks. Court noted that it was the last adjournment at the instance of the Applicant/Defendant.
Unfortunately, when the parties appeared on 19.06.14, court was informed that all efforts at amicable settlement had proved futile. Counsel for the Respondent prayed court to go ahead and make a decision on the application on the basis of the pleadings on record.
However, Counsel for the Applicant was opposed to this contending that there were appeals on the matter pending judgment before Justice Adonyo fixed for mention on 09.07.14. And that judgment would be delivered once court is informed that talks have failed.
He prayed that the application be stayed until the appeals are determined to avoid a multiplicity of proceedings.
However, Counsel for the Respondent argued that the procedure after Client/Advocate Bill of Costs is taxed is to proceed with enforcement by summary suit as was done in the present case. Further that the current for stay when pleadings closed in 2012 i.e. 1 ½ years ago, was unacceptable.
Counsel urged court to also consider the provisions of S. 60 (2) Advocates Act arguing that the Respondent had a certificate of Taxation that has not been set aside and is entitled to have it adjudicated upon and if questions are changed on appeal, they will abide by the decision of court. Otherwise that the matter concerning services rendered in 1998, had to come to a close.
Counsel for the Applicant reiterated earlier prayers adding that if the amounts are altered, matter cannot proceed in the same manner. He urged court to invoke its inherent powers to ensure that justice is done.
The matter was adjourned to 23.06.14 for ruling but the trial judge was indisposed all that week and hence the attendant delay in delivering the ruling.
The submissions of both Counsel have been noted. Decided cases have established that “court may stay proceedings for a number of reasons. One common reason being that another action is under way, that may affect the case or the rights of the parties in the case”.
However, it is apparent that the principle still leaves the discretion to court to determine whether to stay proceedings or not. And I am inclined to believe this depends on the circumstances of each case.
In the present case, this is a matter that has been pending since 2012. The bills out of which the suit arises were taxed in and the services for which the bills arose were rendered way back in 1998.
The matter has been adjourned several times as already pointed out, mostly at the instance of the Applicant, to try and give the parties a chance to reach an amicable settlement. The talks have failed and the Applicant is aware that matter was given last adjournment at their instance.
While it is said that there are appeals pending in respect of the same matter, before the bill is set aside, it is deemed to be the final amount of the costs covered thereby – S.60 (2) Advocates Act and court may make such orders in relation thereto as it thinks fit.
The submissions in respect of the application are on file and Counsel for the Respondent has undertaken to abide by the outcome of the appeal even if the figure is changed.
Court will accordingly deny the stay for those reasons and go ahead to consider the submissions of both parties on record to determine if the Applicant qualifies to be granted leave to appear and defend the suit.
FLAVIA SENOGA ANGLIN