The Court of Appeal has upheld a High Court decision that orders the Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) to pay Shs 31.4 billion to Parambot Breweries and Distillers for damages incurred during the construction of the Gayaza-Zirobwe road in 2012.
A unanimous decision rendered by Justice Christopher Gashirabake, with concurrence from Muzamiru Kibeedi and Oscar Kihika, determined that UNRA’s attempt to disassociate itself from the Attorney General’s settlement consent was unfounded. The court held that the Attorney General’s approval of a settlement was binding, as UNRA operates under the Ministry of Works and Transport.
UNRA, as the appellant, argued that the Attorney General’s consent to the Chief Mechanical Engineer’s report did not constitute an official legal opinion. The court, however, disagreed, stating that the Attorney General’s endorsement of the report effectively bound UNRA as a government agency.
Parambot filed a lawsuit against both the Attorney General and UNRA for negligence and encroachment on its land, citing damages to its premises and machinery during the construction of the Gayaza-Zirobwe Road, where its factories are located. The court found that both UNRA and the Attorney General were jointly and severally liable for these damages, leading to a judgment on admission against them.
The court ruled that UNRA’s argument that it was not party to the decision lacked merit. It emphasized that UNRA, as the implementing agency for the national road network, is accountable for claims arising from its functions, even when it contracts third parties for construction.
With evidence of the Attorney General’s concession to a compensation recommendation of Sh31 billion, the court deemed this sum binding on UNRA. It further clarified that the court could enter a judgment on admission when an admission of facts was made, as allowed by the law.