A law establishing the Court of Appeal was published in the Official Gazette on Wednesday (30 May 2018), setting in motion efforts by the judiciary to try appeal cases at a higher level without necessarily going to the Supreme Court.
Organic Law No 002/2018.OL of 04/04/2018 that establishes the Court of Appeal stipulates that the court will arbitrate, on appeal level, cases handled by the High Court, the Commercial High Court, and the Military High Court.
The law says that the Court of Appeal is an ordinary court whose President, Vice President and other judges are appointed by a presidential order after approval by the Senate.
But the President of the Republic shall be appointing the court’s judges after consulting with the Cabinet and the High Council of the Judiciary, the law says.
Officials said the new court will help in ensuring faster delivery of justice by limiting the number of cases which would end up in the Supreme Court where they would often create a huge backlog.
“Cases which would make it at the Supreme Court level appealed from the High Court and the Commercial High Court will now be handled by the new instance which is the Court of Appeal. Some of the examples of cases which will continue to end up in the Supreme Court are like injustice cases filed from the Ombudsman Office and constitutional interpretation cases,” said Judiciary spokesperson Harrison Mutabazi.
Though judges at the Supreme Court have recently moved to fast-track trial of cases filed there, Mutabazi said that over 1,000 cases are still pending at the court.
Under Article 4 of the law establishing the Court of Appeal, its judges, President, and Vice President take the oath of office before the President of the Republic before assuming office.
The President and Vice-President of the Court of Appeal are appointed for a five-year term of office renewable once, while the other judges of the court have no fixed term.