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Court throws out ICPAU, Nandala Mafabi consent agreement

Mafabi

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The High Court has quashed an agreement reached between the Institute of Certified Public Accounts of Uganda -ICPAU and Budadiri West MP Nathan Nandala Mafabi in which ICAPU considered his application for a practicing certificate and his name included on the new council members.

The head of the High Court Civil Division Musa Ssekaana has quashed the agreement on grounds that the whole process and the manner of execution of the consent were both improper and illegal.

In August 2020, Mafabi petitioned the High Court when ICAPU refused to renew his practising certificate and that of his company MTC Associates for the year 2020. The Institute accused Mafabi of not applying for the renewal on time although Mafabi said all his applications were submitted on time. This effectively meant that Mafabi was not eligible to practice accountancy that year in the absence of a practicing certificate.

Mafabi who was being represented by city lawyer Julius Galisonga accused ICPAU of declaring him a quack accountant despite having practiced the trade for more than two decades.

Also, despite participating in the elections for new council members in which he emerged with more votes than all the participants, Mafabi was not listed as a member because he had no practicing certificate.

Instead, Ronald Mutumba, Gloria Tuhaise Wakooba, Prof. Laura Orobia, Constant Othieno Mayende, Geoffrey Byamugisha, Josephine Okui Okwakol Ossiya and Stephen Ineget constituted the council.

However, later on, at the end of August 2020, Mafabi together with ICPAU signed a consent which was endorsed by the High Court to the effect that ICPAU’s Council that was constituted for the term of July 2018 – June 2020 (outgoing council) was authorized to continue executing body’s statutory mandate. This was to be so pending the final constitution of the New Council and the election of the President and Vice President of ICPAU by the New Council.

It was also agreed that the outgoing council convenes its council meetings and considers all matters that are by law under the mandate of the Council including applications for membership and practicing certificates and licenses that were pending the council’s consideration.

Lastly, it was also agreed that ICPAU contributes to the payment of legal costs of   Mafabi’s lawyer and the parties would agree on the amount payable.

Mafabi’s case was settled but five other members of ICPAU challenged the consent seeking to have it reviewed and set aside. The five are Frederick Kibedi , Ruth Doreen Mutebe,   Harriet Nabuufu Kiwanuka , Edna Isimba Rugumayo and Constant Othieno Mayende.

Court heard that the process leading up to and the manner of execution of the Consent Order on behalf Accountant’s body was both improper and illegal.

The applicants argued that the consent order itself was illegal and in contravention of the law because ICPAU was never consulted and that there was no resolution of its council to enter into the terms of the consent order.

They also told the court that the signatories to the said consent did not have the legal power to execute it in respect to such terms.

However, in his decision delivered to parties via email, Justice Ssekaana ruled that there is no evidence of minutes showing what was discussed at the meetings held between the parties resulted in the terms of the consent order.

According to Ssekaana, there was also no proof that internal policies were adhered to in reaching the consent.

The Judge has also reasoned that the consent seemed to have extended the term of office of the outgoing Council members which he found odd.

“However, I find the approach having left a lot to be desired in so far as at the time of executing the consent, the new members of the council had already been duly elected who ought to have assumed their new offices,” said Ssekaana .

According to the Civil Division Judge also, “there is a contravention of the Accountants Act 2013, which limits the term of office of every council to two years and any agreement/consent purporting to circumvent the clear provisions of the law would therefore be illegal”.

Ssekaana has set aside the consent in issue saying that “a court should not set a bad precedent through which any council upon expiry of their term of two years may sue each other and consequently enter into such consent to get a new lease of life’ by extending their term of office contrary to the spirit and letter of the Accountants Act, 2013”.

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