How To Institute A Civil Suit In Uganda

What Is Institute A Civil Suit ?

A civil suit may be commenced through filing a plaint, notice of motion, chamber summons, originating summons, petition or application/letter in court, statement of claim and complaint on oath.

How To Institute A Civil Suit In Uganda

The Plaint
The person who institutes a law suit is called a plaintiff while the party against whom the law suit is instituted is called a defendant. 

Before a lawsuit is instituted, a person is required to give a Notice of Intention to Sue to the other party. 

A law suit may be instituted by filing a Plaint in the court registry. 

A plaint is a document stating the plaintiff’s claim against the defendant and what he/she wishes court to do for him/her.

Accompanying Documents to the Plaint.
The plaint must be supported by a Summary of Evidence, list of documents, witnesses and authorities that the plaintiff intends to rely on. 

The plaint should also be accompanied by a Mediation Case Summary. When filing the plaint, the requisite filing fees (UGX 1,500 – UGX 3,000)  must be paid in the bank and evidence of payment (bank deposit slip)  attached to the plaint.

The Summons
Plaintiff then extracts a Summons from court requiring the defendant to either file a defence or appear in court on a day specified therein and serves it together with the plaint on the defendant within 21 days after court issues the summons. Once the summons is served on the defendant, the plaintiff must file an Affidavit of Service of Summons in court clearly stating how he/she served it on the defendant. The defendant in this case may defend themselves. (see How to defend a law suit). 

The Mediation
Court will within 14 days after filing of the court documents is complete; notify the parties of the commencement of mediation by way of a notice. 

The mediation is required to be completed within 60 days after the mediator commences mediation. If the mediation is successful/unsuccessful, then the mediator makes a report to that effect. 

Scheduling Conference
Where mediation is not successful, the case proceeds to a scheduling conference where the parties agree on the issues to be resolved in court. Here the plaintiff and defendant can opt to file a Joint Scheduling Memorandum. After the scheduling conference, the plaintiff then sets down the case for hearing by giving a Hearing Notice to the defendant.

In situations where the defendant fails to file a defence within the 15 days, then the plaintiff may set down the suit for hearing exparte where court will only hear the plaintiff’s case.

The Hearing
At the hearing, the court will receive evidence from the plaintiff in respect to his claim and the defendant in respect to his defence. After hearing from both parties or from only the plaintiff where the defendant does not file a defence, court will go ahead to give judgement.

How to defend a civil law suit

  1. Defence
    Upon receipt of the summons and plaint, the defendant is required to file a written Written Statement of Defense within 15 days from the date of receipt of the summons.
  2. Accompanying Documents to the Defense
    The written statement of defence must be supported by a summary of evidence, list of documents, witnesses and authorities the defendant intends to rely on. 
  3. The written statement of defence should also be accompanied by a Mediation Case Summary. The written statement of defence and all its accompaniments must be served on the plaintiff. 
  4. If a defendant also has a claim against the plaintiff, then he may file a written statement of defence and a counter claim still within the 15 days after receiving the summons. 
  5. The counterclaim must be supported by a summary of evidence, list of documents, witnesses and authorities the defendant/counter claim intends to rely on. The plaintiff will be required to reply to the counterclaim within 15 days after it is served upon him or her.

What is the procedure for filing a suit?

File requisite amount of procedure – fee in the court. File 2 copies of plaint for each defendant in the court. Of, the 2 copies for each defendant, one shall be sent by Register/post/courier, and one by Ordinary post. Such filing should be done within 7 days, from date of order/notice.