KAMPALA- Members of the Uganda Law Society (ULS) have ratified the controversial arbitration and mediation centre, a limited liability company amid protests from some members.
A section ULS members endorsed the operation of the International Centre for Arbitration and Mediation in Kampala (ICAMEK) at an Extra-Ordinary General Meeting held their offices in Ntinda on Wednesday. The meeting was attended by about 400 members out of more than 2,000 who subscribe to ULS.
The decision was reached hardly three days after a section of lawyers went to court to challenge the legality of the private arbitration and mediation centre.
Mr Nelson Walusimbi and Mr Andrew Wambi sued the lawyers’ professional body jointly with ICAMEK.
They want court to declare that ULS acted outside its statutory mandate hence acted illegally by subscribing as a member of ICAMEK.
ICAMEK a company limited by guarantee was incorporated by the Uganda Registration of Services Bureau on July 26, 2018 with ULS in conjunction with Uganda Bankers’ Association (UBA) as subscribers.
A source who attended the meeting where the media was blocked, on Thursday revealed that the ULS meeting also took a decision stopping its members from expressing themselves on questions regarding its affairs through social media or any media platform.
“It is surprising that the ULS council which is supposed to be custodians of free flow of information unilaterally barred the media presence at the meeting called to criticise their structures and manner of operations,” a source who declined to be named for fear of being victimised, said.
The source further criticised the ULS for failing to guard free speech and expression by taking the lead of machinations to denigrate the inherent liberty.
Another source who spoke on condition of anonymity following the ban said that during the meeting, representatives Uganda Bankers Association reasoned that ICAMEK was being founded on the premise that banks have a lot of tied up capital within conventional court system.
“We believe that ICAMEK is a creation of the banks to be arbiters or to control arbiters in their own disputes and ULS is being used to legitimise that endeavour,” the source said, accusing ULS of outstepping its mandate given its parent statute.
However, ULS president, Mr Simon Peter M. Kinobe confirmed the developments saying ULS strongly stands with and associates with ICAMEK.
He said that the meeting resolved that the executive council prepares a defence in a misconceived suit filed against ULS.
“We agreed that there should be a code of conduct relating to communication among advocates especially on confidential issues to the society,” Mr Kinobe said adding that a committee would be established.
Some senior member of ULS who talked to Daily Monitor yesterday but requested not to be named, because they agreed to keep matters confidential, said the majority of the members supported ULS decision on ICAMEK.
In a separate interview, Mr Nelson Walusimbi, one of the plaintiffs in the case against ULS and ICAMEK, could not comment on the matter.
“We are waiting for their defence and court to determine our complaints,” he said.
Through Godfrey S. Lule & Co Advocates and Walusimbi & Co Advocates, the complainants allege that ULS’ subscription and or formation of a company limited by guarantee is illegal and that notwithstanding the use its seal in any of the activities of the company to which it is not bound by any incidental transactions or deeds.