Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Makerere University has started defending itself in a court case in which a company it contracted to supply graduation gowns is seeking to recover more than two billion shillings in arrears.
In September 2020, Team Uniform Limited through its lawyers of Marlin Advocates led by Elisha Bafirawala sued the university before the Commercial Division of High Court.
According to the court records, the company was on December 22, 2015 contracted for a period of three years to supply customized graduation gowns each at 90,000 Shillings inclusive of a ten percent fee for the University on each gown supplied for the 67th up to 70th graduation ceremony.
In line with the contract terms, the company reportedly started the process of production of graduation gowns for the 67th ceremony and the subsequent ceremonies.
The evidence by Team Uniform’s lawyers also shows that for the 67th and 68th ceremonies, the company was required to sell the gowns directly to the students and later remit the proceeds equivalent to 10 percent as a commission to the university.
But the university allegedly allowed its students to purchase counterfeit or uncustomised gowns from Wandegeya vendors and others from Makerere University staff thereby undermining the company’s sales hence losses. Besides this, the University also reportedly got money from graduates and withheld payments for the supplied gowns.
As such, the company asked court to compel the institution to pay it more than 2 billion shillings in arrears as well as compensation for damages caused to it.
However, in part of the documentary defense by Makerere University which URN has seen, the institution contends that instead of presenting the actual list containing the names of students whom Team Uniform had supplied gowns, they instead presented the graduation booklets to demand for payment.
The university through its Directorate of Legal Affairs adds that Team Uniform never supplied gowns to all graduates in the 69th graduation which raised a big deficit.
It also alleges that for the 70th graduation ceremony, the company failed to deliver gowns on time and it even asked for advance payment while realizing that it didn’t possess adequate financial resources to fulfill the contract and money was accordingly paid to them.
The evidence by the University further shows that the company quietly went to import gowns from China after misrepresentation that it had capacity to produce gowns and after this it didn’t pay taxes, freight and storage charges which were all later paid by the university.
According to the University, since the graduation gowns were not enough for all graduates and due to the conduct and non-compliance of the company, they decided to terminate the contract.
Makerere also argues that they called the company for reconciliation to see if there is any amount due but it reportedly refused to do so. Therefore, the University wants the commercial division of High Court to dismiss this case with costs.
However, Team Uniform’s lawyers insist that the entire defense by the University is a sham and evasive and therefore when the hearing commences, they will ask court to strike it out from the court records.
This case which is allocated to Justice Richard Wabwire has not yet been fixed for hearing.
The defense comes barely a week when Makerere University senate released a new calendar marking key major events at the institution, key of them the 71st graduation ceremony scheduled between March 16 and 19th, 2021.