Limitation Period

Menge v District Local Government (CIVIL APPEAL No. 153 OF 2012) [2019] UGCA 124 (6 May 2019);


Search Summary: 

In 1993, the appellant was picked from his office by armed policemen who bundled him into a car and drove him to the Mbarara district police officer’s officer where he was detained for five hours amid demands that he vacates his official premises.  His action for unlawful arrest, forced labour, forcible and unlawful retirement, criminal trespass and violation of right to privacy was dismissed on ground that it was time barred and he appealed.

Headnote and Holding: 

The court considered whether the appellant’s action was founded on infringement of human rights or tort. The court held that a judge had discretion to hear a suit even though commenced in a manner not prescribed where there was jurisdiction to do so and the opposite party had an opportunity to be heard in defence or on the other side of the matter. The court was satisfied that the appellant commenced his suit by ordinary plaint and not by notice of motion as prescribed by art. 22 of the 1967 Constitution for enforcement of human rights. The court accordingly concluded that the commencement of the action by ordinary plaint was not fatal to his suit for redress for alleged infringement of human rights.

The court further considered whether the appellant’s action (for enforcement of his fundamental rights) was time barred. The court held that before the appellant’s right to file an action could be limited it had to be demonstrated that the limitation was in public interest or prevent the prejudice of fundamental human rights of others. The court was satisfied that there was no justification for limitation of the appellant’s right to seek redress for the alleged violation of his rights. The court accordingly concluded that the appellant’s action was not barred by statute.


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