Cairo Bank Loses Bid to Overturn 60M Arbitral Award

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In a significant ruling for arbitration in Uganda, the Commercial Court has dismissed with costs an application by Cairo Bank Uganda Limited to set aside an arbitral award worth 60M UGX in favor of Cads Ventures Limited, a debt collecting agency.

The judgment, delivered by Judge Grace Magala on Wednesday, underscores the Courts’ respect for the autonomy and finality of arbitration which is one of the forms of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR).

Cairo Bank argued that the arbitrator Ms. Irene Nambatya had decided on issues not initially framed for arbitration by both parties and had failed to adequately consider its submissions and evidence thereby exhibiting partiality in favor of the debt collector.

These alleged procedural lapses, according to the bank, warranted the setting aside of the award set at a 4% commission of the dispute sum of 1.5B UGX, the debt collecting agency collected from Eco Petrol Stations on behalf of the bank.

In a brief ruling of 13 pages, the court dismissed the application, holding that Cairo Bank did not meet the requirements set out under Section 34 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act for setting aside an arbitral award specifically partiality.


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The court found no evidence of unfairness or partiality on the part of the arbitrator.

Additionally, it noted that Cairo Bank’s application appeared to be an attempt to appeal and re-litigate the merits of the case before arbitration rather than a legitimate dispute over any substantive legal or procedural errors.

Justice Harriet Grace Magala
Justice Harriet Grace Magala/Courtesy Photo

” I am persuaded to find that simply because the Award was not in favor of the Applicant who believed the outcome was as a result of the Arbitrator ignoring their submissions and evidence did not amount to bias or partiality.” Judge Harriet Magala said.

” This is an application to set aside an arbitral award but a careful reading of the grounds of the application and affidavits in support shows that it is a disguised appeal and the applicant is asking this court to subject the evidence on record before the Arbitrator to a fresh scrutiny, re-evaluation, and assessment; and then arrive at a conclusion as to whether this award should be set aside or not.” She added.

Key Points from the Judgment

  • Waiver of Objections: The court emphasized that the bank had waived its right to object by failing to raise any procedural issues during the arbitration proceedings, as stipulated under Section 4 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act.
  • Finality of Arbitration: The judgment reinforces the principle that arbitral awards are final and binding, with limited scope for judicial intervention. This is crucial in maintaining the integrity and efficiency of the arbitration process.
  • Judicial Restraint: The Judgement also underscores the need for judicial restraint in arbitration matters, noting that it should not act as an appellate body to re-evaluate evidence in a bid to consider the merits of the case under arbitration.

This ruling therefore sends a message about the limited grounds on which such awards can be challenged.

The decision is likely to bolster confidence in Uganda’s young arbitration process among the business community and legal practitioners alike, ensuring that arbitration remains a viable and efficient alternative to litigation.

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