In a bid to enhance access to justice in Uganda, several innovations have been initiated by the judiciary to this effect. One of such improvements is the Small Claims Procedure (SCP).
A small claim is defined in Uganda as a civil claim whose subject matter value does not exceed ten million shillings (Ugx. 10,000,000/=.) This can be matters arising out of the supply of goods, debts and rent.
According to the SCP Rules, only natural persons may institute an action (sue) under this procedure, but a body corporate may become a party to an action as a defendant. This means that a company, NGO, Statutory body etc. cannot sue but can only be sued under this procedure.
It is not mandatory to proceed under SCP. A prospective plaintiff can still use the conventional courts to pursue his/her case. However, bringing your claim to the general court will take more time since the procedures are more complicated than in the SCP court.
In the general courts, the plaintiff may also have to hire an advocate unlike in SCP Courts where lawyers are not allowed to represent clients but can only advise them.
So how does one institute a claim under the Small Claims Procedure? Here are the steps;
- The claimant contacts the opposing party with a request to them to pay off your claim. This can be done verbally through a phone call or face to face communication. If the other party does not comply with your verbal request, address a written demand to him/her, detailing the particulars of the facts on which your claim is based, and the amount demanded.
- The claimant should then deliver the demand notice by hand to the opposing party. Please take two copies so that the opposing party acknowledges receipt on one of them.
- If after 14 days the opposing party does not respond to the demand notice, report in person to the Clerk of the SCP at your court of jurisdiction, with proof that the demand notice was delivered to the opposing party. Also carry all relevant documents that support your case like a contract and the address of the opposing party.
- The Court Clerk will help you to fill the Claim Form and will prepare the summons to be served on the pther party.
- The Clerk will then inform you of the hearing date, endorse the claim form and summons and hand them over to you for service on the opposing party.
DONE! You have successfully filed a suit for recovery of your money!
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Note: THIS POST IS INTENDED AS A GENERAL STATEMENT OF THE LAW AND DOES NOT IN ANYWAY PURPORT TO OFFER SPECIFIC LEGAL ADVICE. DETAILED ADVICE IN AN INDIVIDUAL PROBLEM SHOULD ALWAYS BE SOUGHT