The High Court in Kampala has ordered Kampala Capital City Authority to refund all fees charged from outdoor advertising companies since 2011 after declaring them illegal.
A group of six outdoor advertising companies dragged Kampala Capital City Authority to court demanding a refund of the money collected from them in terms of advertising fees and charges between 2011 and 2019 when they filed the matter .
The companies including the National Outdoor Advertising Contractors Association Limited, Prime Media Network Limited,AD Concepts Limited, Level 5 Associates Limited, Capital Outdoor Advertising Company Limited and Adman Source and Contacts Limited said in 2008 Kampala City Council developed the city outdoor advertising policy which created various advertising rates and fees to be paid as a pre-requisite for carrying out their outdoor advertising business in the city and that they are payable on an annual basis.
They argued that when KCCA was formed in 2011, it went ahead to implement the outdoor advertising rates formulated by Kampala City Council, a move they said was illegal.
In his ruling on Thursday, Justice Musa Ssekaana reasoned with the companies saying KCCA had not powers to impose the fees.
“It should be noted that no tax can be imposed except under the authority of an Act of Parliament neither can an authority waive tax except under a law enacted by Parliament. To do so would be null and void and subject to a challenge on the ground that the law does not authorize it,” Justice Ssekaana said.
The judge said that the Constitution under Article 152 is very clear that the said fees are charged under the section 50 of the KCC Act that gives the respondent authority to levy, charge, collect and appropriate fees and taxes in accordance with any law enacted by Parliament under Article 152.
He said it is therefore illegal for KCCA to have contradicted with what the law stipulates.
“The respondent cannot ably rely on the Kampala Capital City Act and Local Government Act to levy the said charges on the applicant as the taxing Act must be clear and unambiguous. The said law in the circumstances does not provide a clear framework under which the applicant and its members are being charged or taxed.”
“The said policy and revised charges were therefore an unlawful as they did not conform to the provisions of the law under Article 152 of the Constitution and section 50 of the Kampala Capital City Act which regulate the procedure under which the respondent operates.”
The court also ruled that it was illegal for KCCA to deface or remove the billboards, signages and other advertising tools for the six advertising companies that had not paid the fees.
“I therefore find that the outdoor advertising rates levied, charged and collected by the respondent from the applicant’s members under the respondent’s City Outdoor Advertising Policy, 2008 and the varied new Outdoor Advertising rates levied, charged and collected under Minute; KCCA 11/16/2018 are void, ultra vires, illegal and unlawful,” Justice Ssekaana said.
He ordered KCCA to refund all the monies collected from the eight outdoor advertising companies since 2011 to 2019 when they filled the case but also a 15% interest per annum from the date of filling of the matter.