Court gives relief to Irish man who lost property to Ugandan fiancee

Mr David Michael O’Connel, respondent and Ms Catherine Nakawooza, petitioner. Photos | Courtesy

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In September, Magistrate Nabaasa ruled in favour of Ms Nakawooza, kicking Mr O’Connel out of their home.

Mpigi High Court has granted relief to an Irish man, who the lower court had ordered out of a house and 10 plots of land, including a farm.
This was after Mr David Michael O’Connel reportedly bought the properties in the names of his Ugandan fiancée, Ms Catherine Nakawooza, but failed to prove that he is the financier.
But core to Justice Anthony Oyuko Ojok’s ruling dated December 2, was that the lower court presided over by Chief Magistrate Ruth Nabaasa in September, did not have the powers to try the case in question since the contested wealth - in billions of shillings - exceeds the Shs50m, the cap of the case, that a magistrate can handle.

 “The trial chief magistrate exercised her powers in excess of her jurisdiction while doing so illegally and with material irregularity of injustice in contravention of Section 83 (a) of the Civil Procedure Act,” ruled Justice Ojok.
He added: “The subject matter from my quick perusal of the record is one that is way above the pecuniary jurisdiction of the Chief Magistrate’s Court of Shs50m. The decision of the lower court is set aside and the application is allowed with costs. I so order.”
Mr O’Connel was represented by Justus Amanyire of Amanyire & Mwebaze Advocates and Denis Atwijukire of Pace Advocates.
In September, Magistrate Nabaasa ruled in favour of Ms Nakawooza, kicking Mr O’Connel out of their home.

Magistrate Nabaasa held that court would not go into the details of who financed the purchase of the land in Namayumba, Wakiso District.
 “Merely being the financier of a land transaction for which another person becomes registered as the proprietor is not one of the legally recognised exceptions to indivisibility of title under the Registration of Titles Act,” Chief Magistrate Nabaasa held in September.

“Nonetheless, owing to my findings in issue 2, I am satisfied that the residential home of the petitioner where she ordinarily resides with her three issues (children), rightfully belongs to her.  An order doth issue restraining the respondent from accessing this home without the petitioner’s prior permission,” she added.
According to court documents, Mr O’Connel and Ms Nakawooza had a relationship that started 2002.  The records also show that she solemnised a customary marriage with Mr O’Connel on January 25, 2014 in Bweyogerere near Kampala.
She also gave evidence that while living together, she acquired a number of real estate properties, which she registered in her names and entrusted all the documents of title in the custody and care of Mr O’Connel.

However, in response, Mr O’Connel denied solemnising a traditional marriage with Ms Nakawooza.
He said the events at Bweyogerere did not constitute a traditional marriage but just a visit to Ms Nakawooza’s mother to be known as the man who was dating their daughter and also a father of the three children.
Mr O’Connel also said since he was not a Ugandan, he was not allowed to purchase mailo land, hence buying it in Ms Nakawooza’s names.
“At the trial, the respondent (Mr O’Connel) presented a myriad of documents showing bank transfers and bills of exchange to prove that he was the actual source of funds that paid for the properties,” documents state.


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