Company sues UNBS over negligence of mandate

Monday September 27 2021
By Betty Ndagire

An electronics company has sued Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) over failure to observe and carry out its mandate.
In a case filed before the Commercial Division of the High Court, Scorpio Africa Limited is also seeking recovery of more than Shs453.2m in special damages, compensatory and general damages for fraudulent or neglect, misrepresentation, deceit and interest as well as cost of the suit.

According to court documents, Scorpio claims that it has at all material time imported assorted electrical products such as frosted bulbs and energy saver bulbs, among others, which before shipment, are inspected by SGS - contracted by UNBS - and issued with a Certificate of Conformity, which certifies that the goods in reference are fit and acceptable to trade in Uganda. 
However, Scorpio claims that after the goods had arrived in Uganda, instead of being released for onward trading upon payment of taxes and certifying the Certificate of Conformity by UNBS,  were seized on grounds that they did not conform to the requirements and specifications of the Ugandan market. 

Acting through Messrs Alliance Advocates, Scorpio contends that its Managing Director Daniel Zhou was eventually arrested and charged with offences relating to possession and sale of electrical products that do not conform to required standards. 
However, in a judgement delivered on August 6, 2019 by the Standards Utilities and Wildlife Court he was acquitted with court finding that Mr Zhou had been misled by UNBS agents to take possession of the unlawful goods. 
Scorpio faults UNBS for misleading it through its agents, who they claim, were aware that the goods would be seized due to non-conformity.
In doing so, Scorpio says, UNBS failed to discharge its duties,  causing it losses,  stress and reputational damage that it wants court to find UNBS liable. 
Scorpio also wants court to enter a judgment against UNBS for special damages of Shs453.2m, general and compensatory damages and interest above 20 per cent from the date of court action till payment is done in full and cost to the suit.

According to court documents somewhere in January 2016, Scorpio purchased electronic products for shipment to Uganda, among which included 292 cartons of frosted bulbs, 421 cartons of flush lux, 1,395 cartons of cixing (2 u series) and 178 cartons of cixing (3 u series). However, they were all seized by UNBS for non-conformity to standards.