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Lawyers Feud Over Arbitration Center

Some of the lawyers say the center was founded on an illegality since it doesn’t fell under the mandate of ULS and the fact that the constitution mandates the government of Uganda to offer services the center seeks to offer.
27 May 2019 07:53
Lawyers under their Umbrella Association, Uganda Law Society-ULS are bickering over the newly established International Center for Mediation and Arbitration in Kampala –ICAMEK.  

The center was officially registered in 2018 by ULS together with Uganda Bankers Association-UBA as Private Sector led institution to advance alternative dispute resolution in Uganda and across East Africa.  

  The Constitutional Affairs and Justice Minister, General Kahinda Otafiire launched the center late last month. However, there has been lots of criticism from lawyers in the country since the inception of the center.

  Some of the lawyers say the center was founded on an illegality since it doesn’t fell under the mandate of ULS and the fact that the constitution mandates the government of Uganda to offer services the center seeks to offer.

  On Wednesday last week, ULS closed door Extra General Assembly on the matter at its Ntinda offices, which dragged on until late in the night.  The ULS president, Simon Peter Kinobe told URN that 99 percent of the lawyers who attended the meeting endorsed the establishment of ICAMEK, saying it was started within the laws governing ULS. 

  ULS comprises more than 2500 members but only 400 attended the Extra General Assembly. Of the 400 members present, 160 voted in favor of maintaining ICAMEK while the remaining members didn’t vote, according to an anonymous source that attended the meeting.

  They reportedly raised their hands to raise their opposition but were ignored. The source also noted that the meeting resolved they stop discussing issues of ULS on social media.

  Another source also told URN that they were given contradicting information about the purpose of the Arbitration Center. He said that whereas they were reportedly told that it will be dealing in alternative dispute resolution, the lawyers question the ideological basis for ULS to partner with Uganda Banker’s Association to establish the center.  

  Those opposed say the whole enterprise of ICAMEK is a fishy business to be used only for back deals. The ULS President, Simon Peter Kinobe, said that there are some external forces trying to infiltrate the society.

“The society should never be used by external forces.  We are here to transform ULS and we shall not fall back”, Kinobe told URN on phone. Kinobe warned those calling ICAMEK illegal to desist, saying their thoughts are misconceived.   

  The ULS Extra General Assembly came a day after two of its members Nelson Walusimbi and Andrew Wambi petitioned court, saying ULS is deviating from its statutory mandate and aiding private profit initiatives against the general public of Uganda by promoting a judicial system and practice contrary to the Ugandan constitution. 

Walusimbi told URN that he attended the Assembly but didn’t vote, saying he couldn’t participate in an illegality, which he is challenging in court.

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