The Court System of Uganda

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Article 129 of the Ugandan constitution specifies that the judicial power of Uganda is exercised by the courts of judicature below:

  1. The Supreme Court of Uganda

This is the highest judicial organ in Uganda, deriving its powers from Article 132 of the Constitution. It is the final Court of Appeal in Uganda which only decides cases on appeal from lower courts, except in the case of a presidential election petition where the court holds original jurisdiction.

2. The Court of Appeal of Uganda

The second-highest judicial organ in Uganda derives its powers from Article 134 of the Constitution. It is a court of appeal when hearing cases from the High Court of Uganda. All judgments by the Court of Appeal are theoretically appealable to the Supreme Court of Uganda, if the Supreme Court decides to hear the appeal.

However, it may also be constituted as the Constitutional Court of Uganda. In which case, it has original jurisdiction when adjudicating matters regarding constitutionality of laws or the interpretation of the Constitution, in accordance with Article 137 of the Constitution.

3. The High Court of Uganda

The third-highest judicial organ in Uganda, derives its power from Article 139 of the Constitution. It has unlimited original jurisdiction in all matters and appellate jurisdiction when hearing cases from lower courts.

Under these are:

  • Chief Magistrates Courts
  • Grade I Magistrate’s Courts
  • Grade II Magistrate’s Courts
  • The Local Council Courts
  • Family and Children Courts and Land Details on these courts

How many judges make up the bench in each court?

The Supreme Court is headed by the Chief Justice and supported by ten (10) Justices with the following quorum:

Constitutional Appeal Cases – 7 Judges

Criminal Appeal Cases – 5 Judges

Civil Appeal Cases – 5 Judges

The Court of Appeal is headed by the Deputy Chief Justice. When sitting as an appellate court, the required quorum is an odd number of not less than three Justices. When sitting as a Constitutional Court, the Court of Appeal shall consist of a bench of five (5) members of the court.

The High Court is headed by the Principal Judge. A case in the High Court is heard by one (1) Judge.