The High Court- Land Division- Kampala has dismissed the petition of Gulf Africa Petroleum Corporation (GAPCO) Uganda and Total Energies Marketing Uganda Limited against quashing a court order.
The Applicants; GAPCO Uganda Limited and Total Energies Marketing Uganda Limited respectively petitioned in the court seeking the removal of an encumbrance to wit a warrant of attachment and sale of property issued in Civil Suit No. 268 of 2006 15 registered on the GAPCO Uganda Limited’s certificates of title to land comprised in LRV 436 Folio 15 Plots 4,6 and 8 Seventh Street, Kampala and LRV 2384 Folio 6 Plot 13 Seventh Street, Kampala on the 16th March 2011.
According to their lawyers, the warrant of attachment has since expired. And since GAPCO Uganda Limited is desirous of transferring the suit properties to Total Energies Marketing Uganda Limited, they want the encumbrance removed.
However, in her ruling, Lady Justice Olive Kazaarwe Mukwaya turned down their prayer saying that a court order does not expire until the court says so, or until it has served its purpose. She noted that the title in question reflects earlier encumbrances, a mortgage to Standard Chartered Bank Ltd and another one to Uganda Commercial Bank Limited. Both were crossed out to indicate that the mortgages were released on the title. The court order seeks to first clear the mortgages put on the land title.
“The concept of expiring of a warrant of attachment of sale of property which is duly registered on a Certificate of Title is an alien one to me. The court issued the warrant following a decree dated 22nd December 2010, where the 1st Applicant was ordered to pay special and general damages plus interest and costs of the suit. Annexure “E” is a letter dated 21st March 2011 which indicates that by that date, no payment had been made towards the settlement of that judgment debt,” she said.
She warned that although the prayer of the two applicants brought before the Court was for the Court to declare the warrant of attachment registered on the 1st Applicant’s titles expired so that the terms of the merger between the 1st & 2nd Applicant can be satisfied, the court will never do that.
“In my view, there is no such thing as an expiry of a Court order. A court order does not and cannot expire. It remains in force until it is fully satisfied or until its duly set aside through an appeal process,” she ruled.
She also guided that Appeals from Court orders are governed by Section 76 of the Civil Procedure Act and Order 44 of the Civil Procedure Rules. Order 44 of the Civil Procedure Rules sets out the orders upon which the right of appeal is given by a statute and it spells out the orders upon which there is an automatic right of appeal.
She asserted that Court orders are the voice of the Court to the public. They are not suggestions but directions. In other words, parties bound by Court orders do not have any option but to comply with the Court order.
“Compliance in the instant scenario would have been full payment of the judgment debt indicated in the warrant of attachment & sale. If this had been done, the proof of payment would have been attached. It is highly probable that the monies have never been paid. Therefore, the warrant is duly subsisting on the titles, alive and well with the full force of the law. And there it will remain until it is evident that it has been fully complied with. Therefore this application is accordingly dismissed with no order as to costs,” she ruled.
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