Lawyers convene AGM over controversial arbitration entity

By Andante Okanya

On Tuesday, ULS general secretary Francis Harimomugasho told New Vision that the meeting would be scheduled for next week.

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Uganda Law Society (ULS) is to convene an exceptional annual general meeting(AGM), in light of the uproar over the International Centre for Mediation and Arbitration Kampala (ICAMEK).
 
A section of lawyers are querying the formation of ICAMEK, saying the fraternity was included in the private arbitration entity without consent and resolution of members.
 
On Tuesday, ULS general secretary Francis Harimomugasho told New Vision that the meeting would be scheduled for next week.
 
"I have received a petition and fixed the special AGM for Wednesday next week. The ULS act mandates us to take decisions on behalf of the members. But if something becomes controversial, we call for a special meeting so that the members deliberate," said Harimomugasho.  
 
According to the profile on the ICAMEK website, the entity is described as an independent NGO, dedicated to advancing Alternative Dispute Resolution in Uganda and across East Africa.
 
The profile says ICAMEK is a private sector led institution focused on delivering the benefits of world-class Alternative Dispute Resolution to businesses, professionals, governments and communities alike.
 
It says the initiative was championed by ULS and Uganda Bankers' Association(UBA). ICAMEK was launched on April 25, and one of the directors is former  ULS  president emeritus Francis Gimara.
 
The profile notes that that a need was identified to compliment the current Judicial system with a fair, expeditious, efficient, and flexible Alternative Dispute Resolution mechanism to settle both domestic and international commercial disputes.
 
But in the petition, the aggrieved lawyers, including Nelson Walusimbi who has been outspoken, says the debacle paints a fraudulent image of lawyers, whom the public expects to be a guiding light of transparency.
 
Eight sticky questions
 
The petitioners are so far demanding answers to eight questions
 
Who authorised the use of ULS as a subscriber and how! Where is the instrument?
 
Who appointed Gimara Director?
 
Isn't appointment of Gimara as first director as ULS President emeritus conflict of interest? !is it even ethical?
 
Have its accounts in Stanbic been scrutinised by assembly or even auditor general?
 
Can statutory body actually create private company? (that's if it's members consented?
 
Why are ICAMEK  positions not advertised yet they say ULS participates?Is ULS for a few?
 
Who appointed private law firm to register this company? was there ever agm of bankers body and ULS? when and where?
 
Have individuals hijacked statutory ULS for personal gain?