By our reporter
The deputy Commercial Court register, Her Worship Juliet Hatanga is under fire over allegations of case misallocation in disregard of the court known legal procedure.
It’s alleged that the misconduct of Her Worship Hatanga has resulted into various complaints from various lawyers, litigants and a judge to her superiors who include the Head Commercial court, the principal judge, Chief Registrar and Judicial Service Commission JSC.
In the letter dated 2, March, 2023, seen by this website, allegedly for lady justice Cornelia K. Sabiiti, she formally complained to the Head Commercial Division, High court and copied the same to the Principal Judge and the Deputy Registrar H/W Hatanga herself complaining about the conduct of the later in case file MA No. 219/2023.
Lady Justice Cornelia asserts that H/W Hatanga deliberately flouted the standard administrative procedures by allocating her an application when she was well aware that the main suit was allocated to Justice Stephen Mubiru and the hearing was already before same judge.
“It is not clear what motivated her actions which could have resulted in me facing the Judicial Service Commission for interfering with another judge’s docket by handling a file in court that was not formally allocated to me” reads Justice Cornelia’s letter in parts.
Justice Cornelia says she later realized that the matter was already controversial hence she could be perceived as corrupt.
“Further, I later discovered that the subject matter of the application was controversial in nature having been reported in the media with regard to alleged fraudulent property transactions of the Estate of the late BMK. Therefore, any decision that I may have made could have been misinterpreted or reported as having been taken with duplicitous or corrupt intentions.” The letter further reads.
In the same letter, Justice Cornelia says her reasons for the complaint about the conduct of the Deputy Registrar H/W Hatanga is to make a formal record and measures are taken to avoid similar scenarios in the commercial court.
Justice Cornelia K. Sabiiti complaint against Deputy Registrar H/W Juliet Hatanga conduct comes when several lawyers and litigants are also complaining about the same person’s conduct in case allocations.
A group of lawyers and public interest groups have also filed a Complaint of Judicial Misconduct to Judicial Service Commission and the Chief Justice, sighting manipulation of the Electronic Court Case Management Information System (ECCMIS) by the same judicial officer. Some of the sighted cases include Cs-926-2022 and Ma-219-2023 allegedly she swapped electronically from one Judge to another in disregard of the court known legal procedure.
The Judiciary rolled out the Electronic Court Case Management Information System (ECCMIS) in selected courts mainly in Kampala and surrounding areas in 2022.
It is a digital system that automates and tracks aspects of a court case life cycle, which has dealt away with the paper roster case administration system. The establishment of the electronic system is one of the major guardrails and reforms that have been undertaken in the administration of justice by the Judiciary of Uganda to espouse transparency in the dispensation of justice.
According to the alleged Justice Cornelia K. Sabiiti letter, she states that “on 15th, February, 2023. HW Hatanga rang me in the evening to notify me that there was an urgent application for objector proceeding before me and that the lawyers needed a date. Since my court diary was full I told her I could only fix a date later the next week. At this point HW did not notify me that the main suit was under Your Lordship Justice Mubiru a fact that was well within her knowledge. I asked my clerk to fix a date in my diary and on the date of hearing I noted that the DR had issued an administrative interim order under MA 265/2023 pending hearing of the main application for objector proceedings. On the day of the hearing of the application on 21st, February, 2023, I asked for the main suit file but it could not be retrieved at short notice. I entered court and tasked the lawyers to brief me on the status of the main suit and in particular the orders that had been made for which the objector proceedings were made. It was at this point that I discovered that the main suit HCCS NO. 921/2022 was under your Lordship and that you had issued an order for attachment pending judgment and the suit was underway which fact that was also within the knowledge of the DR when she issued the administrative interim order.
The letter further reads “Given this new information, I used the technicality that the Interim order had expired since three days had elapsed and notified the lawyers that the application for objector proceedings would be transferred back to you as the judge handling the main suit. After the hearing in court, I rang you and briefed you (Justice Stephen Mubiru, Head Commercial Division of the High court) about the matter and you said you would take it up with the DR for further action. I am yet to be informed about the outcome of your decision with the DR,”
This comes at a time when the Commercial Court is already under fire for switching files from one Judge to another. The Daily Monitor, on March 23, 2023 reported having seen 0n August 17, 2022 a letter by Mr. Kyabahwa which reads, “Although I have complained to the Principal Judge and the Chief Justice about the former’s conduct, and also physically met with the Chief Justice to lay bare my complaints and reservations about unfair treatment by the Principal Judge, no attempts have been taken to demonstrate to me that I shall ever get justice from the Principal Judge.” The Chief Justice and Principal Judge were copied in the letter.