The Supreme Court in Kampala has ordered Rock Petroleum Limited and its lawyers of Muwema and Mugerwa Company Advocates to refund over Shs.4.7 billion to tax body Uganda Revenue Authority.
The Court of Appeal ordered Rock Petroleum to refund more than Shs5.4 billion to URA after it had been advanced to the oil company as legal costs following a 2013 High Court order to the tax body.
This happened after a 2009 case in which Rock Petroleum (U) Ltd sued by representative action on behalf of all the importers of diesel and petrol in Uganda and on its behalf against URA in regards the monies collected from diesel and petrol importers in excess of Shs450 per litre of diesel and Shs 720 for a litre of petrol.
Justice Masalu Musene then of the commercial court ordered URA to pay Shs48, 631,499,082 as costs to the lawyers, Muwema and Mugerwa Advocates prompting the tax body to appeal against the order after faulting the judge for increasing the amount of instruction fees awardable to the company.
URA went to the court of Appeal, where the ruling was rescinded and instead Rock Petroleum were ordered to refund the Shs 48 billion given to it by URA.
Not contented, Rock Petroleum decided to take the matter to the Supreme Court.
On Thursday, justices of the Supreme Court including Stella Amoko, Eldad Mwangushya,Paul Mugamba,and Richard Butera dismissed Rock Petroleum’s appeal against the Court of Appeal order saying it lacked any merit in it.
“There was nothing amiss in the procedure adopted by the justices of the Court of Appeal to order the impugned refund,” the judges ruled.
The tax body hailed the ruling as a landmark victory.
“The taxpayers were saved from paying Shs 5.8 billion in costs to the private advocates. It will foster discipline among legal practitioners who wish to use illegal means to earn excessive professional fees.
The case is a big contribution by the URA team to the growth and development of jurisprudence in the country and the region at large,” said a statement released by Ian Rumanyika, the URA manager for public and corporate affairs
“Congratulations to the formidable URA Legal and indeed the entire leadership at URA whose immense support earned URA this historical victory.”