CENTENARY RURAL DEVELOPMENT
COURT OF APPEAL OF UGANDA AT KAMPALA
CIVIL APPEAL NO. 30 OF
(ON APPEAL FROM HIGH COURT CIVIL SUIT NO. 887 OF 1996)
HON. MR. JUSTICE G.M. OKELLO,
HON. LADY JUSTICE A.E.M BAHIGEINE, JA.
HON. MR. JUSTICE
A. TWINOMUJUNI, JA.
March 27, 2000
Damages – Appellant seeking special damages for wrongful dismissal
– Appeal against trial court’s failure to award
– Whether evidence properly evaluated
Award of interest on decretal sum – Appellant seeking commercial interest
rate from date of dismissal to date
of suit – Trial court awarding
interest from date of filing suit till payment in full – Whether proper
– Rate of
The appellant sued the respondent
seeking general damages, special and exemplary damages for wrongful dismissal,
false arrest, and
malicious prosecution. He also sought interest on the amount
claimed and costs of the suit. In its defence, the respondent filed
claim in which it sought to recover Shs. 5,576,987 being principal and interest
allegedly loaned to the appellant At the
beginning of the trial, the respondent
admitted liability and offered to pay a sum of shillings 15,535,265/= as special
An interlocutory decree was entered in favour of the appellant for that
amount, and court proceeded to determine the balance of the
special damages and
assess the quantum of general and exemplary damages. The trial judge held inter
alia that the appellant did not
prove special damages, and awarded interest at a
rate of 6% on the decretal sum from date of filing of the suit, but no ruling
made on the counter claim. The present appeal was filed on grounds that the
trial judge wrongly held that the appellant was not entitled
to special damages,
erred in law in failing to dismiss the counter claim, and in failing to award
interest from the date of the appellant’s
dismissal to institution of the
(i) The trial judge correctly held that there was no reliable evidence to
support the appellant’s claim for special damages;
(ii) The respondent had the duty to prove its claim in the counter-claim to
succeed. As it adduced no evidence in proof of the claim,
the trial judge ought
to have made appropriate finding thereon. The counter claim would be
(iii) In cases of wrongful dismissal, interest runs from the date of dismissal
In the instant case, the trial Judge did not decide
on the evidence before her
whether interest was payable on the principal sum admitted for the period prior
to the institution of
the suit and if so at what rate. She only concerned
herself with the rate of interest for the period from the date of the suit till
payment.. On appeal court awarded interest at a rate of 20% being the prevailing
bank interest rate, to run from the date of the
appellant’s dismissal to
the date of the suit.
Cases referred to:
Bold v Brough, Nicholson & Hall Ltd.  3 ALL ER
Cremer v General Carmers S.A. 1974 W.L.R 341
Gulam Husein v The French Somali Land Shipping Co. Ltd.  EA 25
Kasekende Muguzi v Centenary Rural Development Bank, HCCS No.812 of
Legislation referred to:
Civil Procedure Act Cap Section 26 (2)
Evidence Act Section 132
G.M. OKELLO: JA: This appeal is against the judgment and orders of
the High Court (BYAMUGISHA J.) given on May 12, 1998 in High Court Civil Suit
887 of 1996.
The appellant had sued the respondent in High Court
Civil Suit No. 887 of 1996 seeking general damages, special damages of 21
shillings and exemplary damages for wrongful dismissal, false arrest,
unlawful detention and malicious prosecution. He also sought
interest on the
amount claimed and costs of the suit.
In its written statement of
Defence, the respondent filed a counter claim in which it sought to recover Shs.
5,576,987 being principal
and interest allegedly loaned to the appellant At the
beginning of the trial, the respondent admitted liability and offered to pay
sum of shillings 15,535,265/= as special damages. Upon that admission, an
interlocutory decree was entered in favour of the appellant
for that amount.
Hearing proceeded to determine the balance of the special damages and to assess
the quantum of general and exemplary
At the close of the trial,
the trial judge made the following orders:
1. The appellant did not prove any further special damages beyond that admitted.
2. Shs. 15,535,265/= to carry interest of 6% per annum from date of filing the
suit till payment in full.
3. Two million shillings as exemplary damages against the respondent.
4. Five million shillings as general damages against the respondent.
5. Taxed costs of the suit in favour of the appellant.
was no ruling on the counter claim. The appellant was aggrieved by orders Nos.
1, 2 (as regards the rate of interest) and failure
of the trial court to rule on
the counter claim. Hence this appeal.
There are three grounds of the
(1) The learned trial judge erred in law and fact when she wrongly held that the
appellant was not entitled to special damages because
he had no basis for his
(2) The learned trial judge further erred in law when she failed to dismiss the
(3) The learned trial Judge erred in law when she failed to award interest from
the date of dismissal to the date of institution
of the suit.
The appellant sought from this court orders that:
(i) The order of the High Court for special damages be varied to include a
higher award of 13,544,200 (Shillings thirteen million,
five hundred forty four
thousand two hundred only).
(ii) The counter claim be dismissed with costs in favour of the
(iii) This court makes an award of interest on the principal sum for the period
prior to the institution of the suit.
(iv) Costs of the appeal be provided.
complaint in ground 1 above is that the trial judge erred in holding that the
appellant did not prove any further
special damages beyond that admitted. Mr.
John Matovu, learned Counsel for the appellant, adopted his argument in the
The gist of that argument is that the appellant testified on his
own behalf as (P.W.1), called the evidence of Masaba William P.W.2,
former employee of the respondent and adduced exhibit P.4, supposedly the
respondent's salary schedule showing the salary
scale and allowances for each
member of staff. In counsel's view, the above evidence was not controverted as
the respondent called
no evidence. He dismissed Exhibit D.2, the respondent's
salaries scales, admitted in evidence by consent of both parties for comparison
with Exhibit P.4, as forged.
Mr. Kakuba, learned counsel for the
respondent, also adopted his arguments at the trial. The substance of his said
arguments is that
exhibit P.4 on which the appellant based the calculation of
his special damages was not authentic as its source was not certain.
view, the trial judge was right to have believed Exhibit D.4 instead of the
unauthenticated Exhibit P.4.
The trial judge dealt with this issue in
her judgment in this way:
"In their submissions both counsel persuaded court to rely on their respective
documents. I have had opportunity to look at both
documents that is exhibit D2
and exhibit P4. At the time both documents were issued, the plaintiff was no
longer an employee of the
bank. In his testimony, he stated that he got the
scales from his friends in the bank. Counsel for the plaintiff in his submission
referred court to the case of Kasekende Muguzi v Centenary Rural Development
Bank, HCCS No.812 of 1995(Unrepoted) where the court used exhibit P4
and disregarded the schedule of the bank. He therefore claimed that there is
good reason for the defendant
to prepare forged documents and he invited court
to treat Exhibit D.2 as useless. Counsel for the defendant however urged court
treat Exhibit D.2 as authentic. He submitted that it is highly unlikely that
an organisation like the defendant bank would give verbal
instructions to P.W.2
to effect payment of salaries without putting those instructions in writing.
Exhibit D.1 and D.2 are both certified
copies of the original. They were
tendered by consent for purposes of comparison with Exhibit P.4. When both
scales are looked at,
it becomes apparent that Exhibit D.2 was accompanied with
instructions to all branch managers to effect payment of the revised emoluments
for the staff of the bank. Therefore I do not accept the testimony of P.W.2 that
he used to get verbal instructions. All correspondence
in Exhibit D.2 appear to
have emanated from the Personnel Manager, Principal Accountant and the General
Manager all Principal Officers
of the Bank. I am not persuaded that they forged
the salary scales in order to defeat the plaintiff's claim. Admittedly the
was at a disadvantage in that when salaries were being revised, he was
no longer an employee of the defendant and therefore had no
access to official
information of the bank but that alone does not entitle him to use documents and
get damages that he would not
otherwise get. Exhibit P4 shows that the figures
contained therein were proposed emoluments for management staff. It therefore
to conclude that the proposals were later made official in Exhibit
D.2. The plaintiff in his testimony admitted that some figures
are similar and
others are different. This might be an indication that the proposed emoluments
were adjusted before being officially
published by the defendant. Further more,
the plaintiff s original plaint filed on September 28, 1996 contained a claim of
million shillings as special damages. This figure was amended to over 30
million on March 7, 1997 and further amended to over 21
million. In my view this
shows that the plaintiff did not have reliable information on which to base his
calculation. All in all,
I think the plaintiff has not proved the special
damages strictly as the law requires and the figure admitted by his former
should in all fairness be the correct figure."
cannot fault the learned trial Judge in the above manner she dealt with the
issue. She considered and analysed all the evidence
before her and gave reasons
for rejecting one side for the other.
Mr. Matovu argued that the
appellant gave evidence on his behalf, called the evidence of Masaba William
P.W.2 and adduced a documentary
Exhibit P.4 to support his claim while the
respondent did not adduce any evidence in rebuttal. He submitted that since that
for the appellant was not controverted, the trial judge ought to have
found that the appellant had proved his special damages beyond
admitted. With respect to the learned counsel, I do not agree with that
Firstly, it is not true that the respondent did not adduce
evidence. The salary scale Exhibit D.2 was adduced by the respondent and
admitted in evidence by consent of counsel for both parties. This is evidence.
It was considered together with Exhibit P.4 and
other oral evidence adduced by
and for the appellant. Secondly, it is not true that the evidence for the
appellant was not controverted.
The record shows that both P.W.I and P.W.2 were
cross-examined on the two documentary evidence and both admitted under
that the two documents are different. Further, the credibility
of these witnesses were also tested in cross-examination. Exhibit
adduced to controvert Exhibit P.4 that was adduced on behalf of the appellant.
Thirdly, it is generally not the quantity
of evidence that proves a fact but
rather the quality of the evidence that matters. (See Section 132 of the
Evidence Act). In the instant case, the trial judge carefully analysed
the evidence of P.W.I, P.W.2 and Exhibit P.4 and D.2. Of all these, she
that Exhibit D.2 was more credible and believed it. She was entitled to do so.
Counsel for the appellant did not show us where
the learned judge went wrong. I
find no merit in this ground and would fail.
The next is ground 2. The
appellant's complaint here is against the failure of the trial judge to rule on
the counter-claim. According
to Mr. Matovu, the respondent had filed a
counter-claim in which it sought to recover a specified sum it allegedly loaned
appellant. The appellant responded to the claim denying it. At the trial,
the respondent adduced no evidence to prove that claim.
Yet the trial judge made
no ruling on the counter-claim. In Mr. Matovu's view, that was an error on the
part of the trial judge.
She should have dismissed the counter claim with costs
in favour of the appellant. Mr. Kakuba conceded that the respondent did not
prove its counter-claim. It is trite that the rules of pleadings apply to a
counter-claim and to a defence thereto as though they
are respectively a
statement of claim and defence. (See Precedents of Pleadings by BULLEN AND LEHCE
AND JACOB 12th Edition p. 97).
It is an elementary
principle that the respondent had the duty to prove its claim in the
counter-claim to succeed. As it adduced no
evidence in proof of the claim, the
trial judge ought to have made appropriate finding thereon. Unfortunately she
did not. I think
this was an error. There is merit in this complaint and the
ground would succeed.
Finally, the appellant complained against the
trial judge's failure to award interest on the principal sum from the date of
dismissal to the date of institution of the suit.Mr. Matovu
argued that the shs. 15,535,265/= adjudged in favour of the appellant
damages attracted commercial interest for that period prior to the institution
of the suit. In his view section 26 (2)
of the Civil Procedure Act Cap.
65 empowers court to award such interest. He also cited Gulam Husein v The
French Somali Land Shipping Co. Ltd.  EA 25 at 28 in support of that
In response, Mr. Kakuba contended that the issue of interest is a
matter of discretion of the court. In his view, the lower court
did exercise its
discretion and awarded interest at the rate it deemed appropriate and applied it
to the period it considered appropriate.
He argued that in contract cases like
the present one, where the parties agreed on payment of interest on the
principal sum prior
to institution of a suit, it should be followed. However,
where there is no such agreement as it is in this case, no such award can
The trial judge dealt with the issue in her judgment in this way:
"The question of 40% interest rate claimed in the plaint was raised by
the defence. The contention here is that the interest is too
high or that it is
not awardable in cases of breach of contract. Section 26 (2) of the Civil
Procedure Act provides:
“Where and in as far as a decree is for
the payment of money, the court may, in the decree order interest at such rate
court deems reasonable to be paid on the principal sum adjudged from the
date of the suit to the date of the decree in addition to
any interest adjudged
on such principal sum for any period prior to the institution of the suit, with
further interest at such rate
as the court deems reasonable on the aggregate sum
so adjudged from the date of the decree to the date of payment or to such
date as the court thinks fit.”
The above provisions, I
think gave court discretionary powers to award any rate of interest which it
considers reasonable. I consider
that interest of 40% claimed in the plaint as
unreasonable in the circumstances of this. I have not come across a case like
one where such interest has been awarded. I consider the court rate
of 6% per annum a reasonable rate.........
The sum of Shs. 15,535,265/=
which was admitted by the defendant will carry interest from the date of filing
the suit till payment
A proper construction of section 26 (2)
would show that it empowers court to award three types of interests at the rate
it deems reasonable:
|(1)||Interest adjudged on the
principal sum from any period prior to the institution of the suit. Here, the
court must first decide on
the evidence, the question of award ability of this
interest and then on the rate at which it is to be awarded if any.
|(2)||In addition to that,
interest on the principal sum adjudged from the date of filing the suit to date
of decree. Here, the court decides
at its discretion which must be made
judicially, the rate of interest to be awarded.
|(3)||Further to the above,
interest on the aggregate sum so adjudged, from date of decree to date of
payment in full. |
Gulam Hussein (Supra)
to which Mr. Matovu referred us does not seem supportive of his view. It seems
to suggest that the question of interest prior
to the institution of the suit is
a matter of substantive law. "OGUS ON THE LAW OF DAMAGES" at page 100
rationalises award of interest
in two ways:
|(1)||that the plaintiff is
thereby being compensated for being kept out of his money. He has been deprived
of the use of his money from
the time he incurred his loss. On that basis,
interest is to run from that date. |
|(2)||that the defendant
wrongfully withheld the plaintiff s money. The emphasis here is on the
defendant's wrongful withholding of the
plaintiff s money. On that basis,
interest is to run from the date when the defendant ought reasonably to have
settled the plaintiff
s claim. This is rather punitive.
It is clear from the above that whether or not
interest is payable for the period prior to the date of the suit depends on the
available. That is why section 26 (2) referred to that type of interest
as "interest adjudged".
In cases of wrongful dismissal, interest runs
from the date of dismissal. Bold v Brough, Nicholson & Hall Ltd.
 3 ALL ER 899 at 858 is a good example of this. In that
case, Bold was employed by the defendant as a Managing Director. On July 27 1962
he was summarily
dismissed by the defendant. In October 1962 he sued the
defendant for wrongful dismissal and sought inter alia damages for loss of
earning and interest thereon. Judgment was entered for the plaintiff and damages
were later assessed. The rate of interest which
was put at 5% per annum was
ordered by court to run from the date of dismissal.
In the instant case,
the trial Judge did not decide on the evidence before her whether interest was
payable on the principal sum admitted
for the period prior to the institution of
the suit and if so at what rate. She only concerned herself with the rate of
for the period from the date of the suit till payment. The evidence
shows that the appellant was entitled to that amount had he not
dismissed. He claimed a commercial interest of 40% because he would have
invested the money if he had been paid earlier.
I think that is speculative and
does not justify an award of a commercial interest. As he was denied the use of
the money he was
entitled to interest on it prior to the institution of the suit
at a reasonable rate. I would put that at 20% it being the current
rate which I consider reasonable. This is to run from the date of his dismissal
to the date of the suit.
Accordingly I find merit in this ground.
In the result, I would allow the appeal in part. Grounds 2 and 3
succeed. The orders of the lower court are set aside and for them
|(1)||The sum of Shs.
15,535,265/=, special damages which the defendant admitted shall
|(a)||Interest at 20% per annum from the
date of the appellant's dismissal to date of filing the suit.
|(b)||The principal sum adjudged shall carry
interest at 6% per annum from the date of filing the suit to date of decree.
|(c)||In addition, the aggregate sum awarded
shall carry interest of 6% per annum from date of decree till payment in full.
|(2)||Counter-claim is dismissed with costs in
favour of the appellant. |
shall pay the appellant's costs of this
As MPAGI-BAHIGEINE, JA and TWINOMUJUNI
JA, both agree, the appeal is allowed on the above terms.
MPAGI-BAHIGEINE, JA: I have read in draft the judgment of G.M. OKELLO, J.A.
I am of the same opinion. However I would only make a brief comment on the
of interest. In principle interest should run only from the date (after accrual
of the cause of action) when the plaintiff
incurred the loss in question, but
the Court has a discretion to fix a later date especially where the plaintiff
has 20 unreasonably
delayed in filing suit which we have not found to be so in
this case. The Court is empowered under Section 26 Civil Procedure Act to
award interest at different rates in respect of different periods. In business
context under which Mr. Matovu sought to claim
for the increased rate of 40%,
the court would adopt an approach which broadly reflects and represents the rate
at which the successful
party would have had to borrow the amount recovered over
the period in question. Cremer v General Carmers S.A. 1974 W.L.R
341. The appellant's cause of action which was rooted in unlawful arrest,
wrongful dismissal and malicious prosecution can hardly
be classified as
business to attract such a high rate. I would therefore agree with the rate of
20% proposed by OKELLO J.A., from
date of dismissal to the date of filing suit.
I also concur with the other orders as made by him.
J.A: I have had the benefit of reading the judgment in draft of G.M.
OKELLO, JA. I agree with the reasoning and the conclusion arrived
at by him. I
have nothing useful to add.