The Inspector General of Government (IGG) does not have authority to terminate a government contract in connection with a multi-billion compensation case in London involving President Museveni and a former Newspaper publisher, lawyers have said.
According to the statement issued by Kampala Associated Advocates (KAA), the only authority who can pronounce itself on validity of a contract is the Attorney General (AG), whose pronouncement binds all government agencies including the IGG.
“IGG cannot advise or direct the AG on whether or not a contract signed by AG himself is illegal. This is a Constitutional function of the AG not the IGG. In a recent court case where the IGG purported to nullify a government contract, the Court quashed the IGG report on the ground that the IGG had no authority to pronounce herself on government contractual procedures and legal matters over the Karuma cases,” KAA said, adding that the government ombudsman did not learn from the Court decision.
The lawyers’ comments come hardly a week after the IGG report cancelled the contract between KAA and the payment of £ 1,225,913 to the law firm as outstanding and payable for their services.
The report indicted KAA for charging excessive fees despite playing supportive role and halted the AG to stop all dealings with the law firm in the Jesse Mashate versus Yoweri Kaguta Museveni case saying that the services were secured contrary to the law.
“In view of the unprofessional conduct of advocates from KAA in securing the award of the contract to defend the President, the contract is unenforceable. No more fees should be paid to the firm in strict compliance with the provisions of the Advocates Act,” IGG Mulyagonja said in the report.
According to the report, the fees that the government considers payable to the lawyers should not have exceeded those payable to the principle lawyers in the UK who are clearly playing the lead role in defending Mashate’s case.
However, the lawyers insisted that IGG was wrong because the position of AG as Chief Government Legal Adviser binds the IGG, and PPDA in accordance with Article 119 of the Constitution, “and that identification of lawyers to defend the government was not a procurement within the meaning of the PPDA Act.”
“That procurement of legal services by the AG is based on his prerogative and judgment based on trust, competence and confidence he has in a lawyer. In addition, PPDA law requires that prices for works and services be determined through competition, but the Advocates Act strictly prohibits competition amongst lawyers, and sets the remuneration for them. Remuneration and price for legal services is not determined by competition but by the law. So the IGG is wrong to say that PPDA was breached,” the lawyers said.
The report resulted from a case in which Dr Mashate sued the president in his individual capacity in a London court seeking to enforce a £6.8 million (about 27.2 billion) judgment with 8 per cent interest dating back to 1986 and costs amounting to £56 million (Shs176 billion) as of July 2011.
However, a complainant alleged that the Ministry of Justice was set to pay £660,800 to KAA and £ 209,396.32 to other groups of lawyers for representing the government in the case in London.
The report indicates that although the complainant stated the fees claimed by KAA as £ 660,000 and £209,396 by the other groups of lawyers, the office of the Solicitor General revealed that KAA claimed for a total of £1,321,600 for their services.