Unlawful Or Unfair Dismissal

Mugisha Richard Bob Kagoro v Uganda Wildlife Authority ((Civil Suit No.263 Of 2007)) [2009] UGHC 139 (27 July 2009);


Search Summary: 

This was an action brought by the plaintiff against the defendant seeking special, general and exemplary damages for wrongful and/or unlawful dismissal from employment under contract and for compensation under the Workers’ Compensation Act, Cap 225, interest and costs of the suit.


According to the plaintiff, he was employed by the defendant as a driver for four years under a 4 year contract effective 1st August 2004.  The plaintiff sustained injuries as a result of an accident while on duty  and was hospitalized at Kasese Hospital and subsequently various other places and while on official sick leave in April, 2006, he was verbally dismissed by the defendant allegedly for absenteeism from duty and told to stay away from the defendant’s duty stations.


Headnote and Holding: 

Court held that the defendant sought to justify the plaintiff’s dismissal by seeking to fit it within the Human Resource Manual.  However, according to the evidence on record which was never controverted, no investigation took place prior to dismissal.  Neither was the plaintiff given a hearing.  This went against the principles of natural justice, and violated the plaintiff’s constitutional right to a fair hearing and the right to a just and fair treatment in administrative decisions guaranteed by Article 28 and 42 of the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda.  According to Article 44(c) the right to a fair hearing cannot be derogated from.  The dismissal which flouted the above provisions is retiring a nullity.


Further, the contract was for a fixed term of 4 years duration.  It did not provide for termination by notice.  The plaintiff could, therefore, only be dismissed for a fundamental breach on his part. The reason assigned by the defendant for the dismissal was not justified given the circumstances surrounding the plaintiff’s absence.  The dismissal was therefore wrongful. 


In respect of the general damages claim, where special damages representing loss of salary for the balance of the contract of employment are awarded, an award of general damages for wrongful dismissal would not be appropriate.


In conclusion, judgment was entered for the plaintiff against the defendant and the following awards were made:


a)       Special damages for the unexpired period of the contract UShs. 7,072,800=

b)       Unpaid leave allowance Ug. Shs. 757,800=

c)       Workman’s compensation Ug. Shs. 5,604,930=

d)      Exemplary/Punitive damages Ug. Shs. 5,000,000=

e)       Interest of 20% per annum on (a), (b), and (c) above from the date of breach, and 15% per annum from the date of filing, till payment in full.

f)       Costs of the suit.


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