The Court of Appeal in Kampala has reduced from a whopping 12 billion shillings to a mere 20 million shillings the reward in costs to lawyer Sevrino Twinobusinye for defending former Prime Minister Patrick Amama Mbabazi on allegations of bribery in the oil sector.
In 2012, Constitutional Court registrar Erias Kisawuzi awarded lawyers representing Mbabazi together with ministers Hilary Onek and Sam Kuteesa 12 billion shillings in a case where the three were being accused of receiving bribes from oil firms.
Legislators had asked for the three ministers to step aside but the constitutional court issued an injunction stopping the process prompting Twinobusingye to seek for recovery of professional fees and the constitutional court registrar Erias Kisawuzi ordered that he is awarded Shs12 billion.
On Monday, Justice Kenneth Kakuru of the Court of Appeal read the judgment which overturned the decision to award the amount to the lawyers led by Twinobusinge as their professional fees.
According to Justice Kakuru, the Shs12 billion was excessive and exorbitant to be awarded to an individual in a petition which had been brought in the spirit of public interest and that there was nothing special with the case.
“I have failed to understand the basis upon which such a high award of instruction fees was made,”Kakuru noted.
Kakuru said that the 28 page judgment was voluminous for nothing because there were a few documents filed and exchanged to justify the award of Shs12 billion.
He argued that the shs 12 billion was too much for ordinary Ugandans who in future might be unsuccessful parties in public interest cases.
He gave an example of the Chief Justice whose salary has just been to Shs20 million and would require to work for 83 years or 1000 months to be able to raise such an exorbitant fee.
“What would the petitioner have done had the award he obtained of shs20 billion on instruction fees had been awarded against him,”Kakuru wondered.
The court consequently ordered that the costs be trimmed to only Shs 20 million to be awarded to Tseverino Twinobusingye.