Ugandan Court dismisses petition seeking to lift ban on Lawyers’ adverts

His Lordship Frederick Martin Egonda Ntende was the head of the Panel that dismissed the petitions.COURTESY PHOTO

Kampala, Uganda | URN | A panel of five Constitutional Court Judges has dismissed a petition in which former West Budama North MP Fox Odoi was challenging a section under the Advocates Act which blocks lawyers from advertising their services.

The petition which was filed in 2013, on grounds that the section which prohibits advocates from advertising themselves using print and electronic media is in contravention with articles of the Constitution which guarantee freedom of speech, expression and economic right.

Odoi also challenged the offences listed against an advocate who advertises their services, arguing  that the criminal sanctions and subsequent disciplinary proceedings are inconsistent with the constitution.

Lawyers face a two-year’ suspension, strike off the roll, an order to pay a fine or compensation besides to disciplinary action before the Law Council, for advertising their services.

Odoi had asked the Constitutional Court to quash the said sections in the Advocates Act and demanded a compensation of 12 billion Shillings for the said legislation he described as arbitrary, oppressive and unconstitutional. 

However, when the matter came up for hearing on Monday 12th, October 2020, the Principal State Attorney Jeffrey Atwine asked the Justices to dismiss it for want of prosecution, citing that the petitioner and his lawyers were absent.

The Justices equally observed that there was enough evidence to show that all the parties were served with notices in September, requiring them to appear for the hearing of the petition. They subsequently dismissed the petition. 

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But  Odoi told this publication that he was busy preparing for his nomination in West Budama North and could therefore not attend to the matter at the time. He said the petition would be reinstated, at an opportune time.

The judges on the panel included Fredrick Martin Egonda Ntende, Cheborion Barishaki, Elizabeth Musoke, Muzamir Kibeedi and Irene Mulyagonja.