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Court of Appeal sides with DPP in court row over foreign lawyer

The Court of Appeal has ruled that a Supreme Court Judge erred when she ruled that a Voluntary Bill of Indictment (VBI) signed by African lawyer David Bakbinga was invalid.

In October, Justice Deborah Fraser ruled in favor of attorney David Cash who argued that Bakibinga, the Ugandan assistant director of public prosecutions, did not comply with the provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC) when he signed off on the VBI for Canes Vallas, who is accused of unlawful sexual intercourse.

Vallas argued, through his attorney, that the VBI is signed by a person who is not a legal practitioner, thereby depriving the Supreme Court of the jurisdiction to proceed with the matter.

Fraser quashed the VBI and sent the matter back to the Magistrates Court, opening the door for other legal matters involving VBIs signed by the Ugandan to be invalidated.

However, Director of Public Prosecutions Garvin Gaskin appealed Fraser’s ruling and contended that her decision was wrong on several grounds.

After considering both sides of the argument, Justice Jon Isaacs said, “ Although there may be occasions when the personal signature of the person is required, I am

satisfied that in the construction of this procedural provision, that is section 258(2) of the

CPC, the maxim is applicable and appropriate so as not to frustrate the breadth of the powers

of the DPP pursuant to Article 78A(4) of the Constitution. Therefore, Mr. Bakibinga was

competent to sign the VBI "for" the DPP.”

He concluded, “Pursuant to the appellant's Ground 4, I am satisfied that the Judge erred when she found that

the VBI signed by Mr. Bakibinga for the DPP was invalid because, as the Privy Council found

“the hand and signature of the agent counts as the hand and signature of the principal”.

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