Case Brief: Mohammed Kitaka v. Harshad Barot

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Date of Judgement: 6th June, 2024

Court: High Court (Land Division)

Case Number: (Miscellaneous Application 581 of 2024) [2024]

Judge: Justice Naluzze Aisha Batala

Main Topic (s): Setting aside an ex parte Judgement, the Role of the Client to follow up on his or her case.

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Summary Facts of the Case

The respondent, Harshad Barot, filed Civil Suit No. 097 of 2022 against the applicant, Mohammed Kitaka, alleging breaches of multiple contracts related to the sale of land.

The suit proceeded ex parte and judgment was entered against the applicant, including orders for compensation and damages due to his failure and that of his advocates to attend court hearing.

Kitaka then applied to set aside this ex parte judgment, claiming that his non-attendance of the court was due to misinformation from his lawyers about the hearing dates.

The decision of the Court

High Court Judge Naluzze Aisha Batala dismissed Kitaka’s application to set aside the ex parte judgment, concluding that he did not provide sufficient reasons for his absence from the court proceedings.

Kitaka failed to demonstrate a valid reason for not attending court hearings, as his affidavit did not satisfactorily explain his and his lawyers’ absence.

The court emphasized that both the litigant and his advocate are responsible for knowing and attending hearings on appointed dates, referencing the principle that equity aids the vigilant.

The Court noted that the applicant had delayed in bringing his application to set aside the ex parte Judgement.

Therefore, the court found no sufficient cause to set aside the ex parte judgment since Kitaka had not shown diligence in following up on his case.

Key Quote: “The litigant just as his advocate needs to know the hearing dates of his case, Equity aids the vigilant as the maxim states. It is not only the duty of the advocate to show up in Court but the litigant too. Litigants ought to be vigilant and follow up their cases.” – Justice Naluzze Aisha Batala.

    Counsel on Record

    • Applicant (Mohammed Kitaka): Represented by Mr. Ronald Ewalu of M/s Geoffrey Nangumya & Co. Advocates
    • Respondent (Harshad Barot): Represented by Mr. Pamba Egan of M/s Opwonya & Co. Advocates

    Law Applied by the Court:

    • Section 98 of the Civil Procedure Act: Provides the court with inherent powers to make orders necessary for the ends of justice.
    • Order 9 Rule 12 of the Civil Procedure Rules: Allows the court to set aside an ex parte judgment upon such terms as it deems fair and just.

    Conclusion

    This judgment affirms the decision of Justice Patricia Mutesi in Tad Beer V. Caroline Blackburn (See Brief here).

    It reinforces the importance of litigants being proactive and diligent in following up on their cases.

    Case Download Link



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