Chief justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo has directed all courts to receive and process applications for execution that had been delayed due to COVID-19 lockdown effective October 11.
In his October 5 circular, Owiny-Dollo directs registrars and magistrates to ensure the authenticity of the court judgements, orders and decrees before they process them for execution in accordance with the relevant laws and practices.
On September 22, 2021, President Yoweri Museveni eased the lockdown, which also saw the suspension of the execution of judgment orders. While easing the lockdown, Museveni also reopened churches and mosques. He also increased the number of people at public events from 20 to 200 people.
Owiny-Dollo says that he has also decided to lift the ban he had previously put on the execution of court orders so as to balance the interests of justice of all persons who have sought justice in court and to enable litigants to realize the fruits of their judgement after a long and costly protracted hearing phase.
"Where there are several modes of execution available in a particular case, the warrant of arrest of a judgement debtor for committal to civil prison should only be issued as a last resort," reads the circular in part. Adding that, “every court bailiff must present a valid license to court before being issued with a warrant of execution."
According to the chief justice, in all manners requiring eviction, demolition and or giving vacant possession, the laws enshrined in the Constitution and other relevant guidelines must be followed.
"Applications for distress for rent orders must be made strictly in accordance with the relevant law and before a court that has both the geographical and pecuniary jurisdiction to determine the matter. All execution proceedings in court and out of court must be carried out with due observance of the COVID-19 preventive measures issued from time to by the chief justice and the ministry of Health," said Owiny-Dollo.
On January 18, 2021, the judiciary officially phased out the executions and bailiffs division of High court almost ten years after inception. The division was put in place with the view of promoting efficiency and effectiveness in handling matters related to the execution of judgements.
The principal judge Dr Flavian Zeija said the decision to phase out the division stemmed from numerous complaints from lawyers about the slow process and corruption especially on the part of the bailiffs who would enter agreements with debtors and bring agreements to the registrars for implementation.
Zeija revealed that the judges or courts that issue judgements and orders will be the ones to do execution just like it was ten years ago. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the chief justice suspended the executions.