Businessman Patrick Bitature has spoken out on a High Court ruling in favour of Vantage Mezzanine Partnership, blaming the filing system, and vowing to appeal Stephen Mubiru’s judgement.
According to Muwema and Company Advocates, who are Bitature and his companies’ lawyers, they have instructions to appeal the May 24 ruling by Justice Mubiru of the Commercial Division of the High Court in which he (judge) dismissed their petition for lack of legal basis.
Bitature’s lawyers have blamed the Electronic Court Case Management Information System (ECCMIS) for their loss in court.
Here is the full response by Bitature’s lawyers, in which they also reveal their next plan of action:
This ruling adumbrates the glaring deficiencies of the Electronic Court Case Management Information System (ECCMIS) which most Advocates and court users have been complaining about.
As can be gleaned from the ruling, our Clients application for a temporary injunction was dismissed with costs against counsel, primarily on the ground that no substantive application was filed in court. This is ironical because a current review of the online filing system (ECCMIS) reveals the contrary as indicated below.
i) We filed an application for contempt of the court arbitral reference order issued by Justice Boniface Wamala in HCMA No 201 of 2020 by the respondents on the 11th day of April 2022 at 12:17hrs.
ii) The said application was given a draft No DRFT HCT-00-CC-MA-0408-2022 Under the ECCMIS system and upon the mandatory validation exercise by the court registrar, the said application obtained a new number HCT-00-CC-MA-0332-2022.
iii) We also filed an application for a temporary injunction which was given a draft No 0414 of 2022 and it was also given a validation final application No 331 of 2022 by the court registrar. An extract from the ECCMIS system confirming both entries is attached for ease of reference.
iv) So by the time we appeared for the hearing of the temporary injunction before the land trial Judge Hon. Justice Steven Mubiru, the final application numbers were already in the court system.
v) Since the ECCMIS is presented as a quintessential system which is inter-operable so as expedite court processes, it came as a surprise when court claimed both at the hearing and in the ruling that our contempt application was not on the system.
(vi) It even came as a bigger surprise that the court itself was confused by the system when it issued the ruling under draft application No. 0414 of 2022 instead of the final application No. 331 of 2022. Why would a final ruling be issued under a draft application if the system is indeed reliable?
vii. From the above narrative, it is evident that the decision and ruling of the court was based on apparent misinformation or malfunction of the ECCMIS. This error cannot be hypnotized on the advocates who do not manage the system and have been wrongly cited for imaginary negligent conduct in this case!
Whereas we have been instructed by our clients to appeal the impugned ruling to the court of appeal for the above and other reasons, we wish to note however that an inefficient ECCMIS may become an impediment for the administration of Justice in the courts where it is being piloted in Uganda.
The efficiency of ECCMIS must be streamlined immediately before other Advocates and litigants fall victim to its endemic malfunctions. Alternatively, operation of the system should be suspended until robust capacity to put it to good use is acquired by the judiciary.
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