Local Council Courts (LCC)
Local Council Courts (LC) are under the supervision of Chief Magistrate on behalf of the High Court. LCs are elected for a term of 5 years, by their local communities often under an umbrella of a political party.
Decisions of the LC courts are supposed to be reached by consensus or by majority vote. Advocates have no right to represent a person in these courts except when the case concerns a bye-law.
Local Council Courts are established at village level in accordance with the Local Council Courts Act 2006.
LC court must:
- Be orderly;
- Have a quorum, which is the minimum number of people required to be present in order to hear a matter before this court;
- Allow witnesses if someone is being accused.
The minimum number of people who must make up the court is also set by the law as follows;
- In the case of a Local Council I (at the village level), the quorum is (5) five members including the person presiding; and (2) should be women.
- In the case of a Local Council II (at the parish level), the quorum is (5) five members including the person presiding; and (2) should be women.
- In the case of Local Council III (at the town, division or sub-county level), the quorum is (3) three members including the person presiding, (1) one of whom shall be a woman. Unlike LC I and II, LC III Court members are appointed by the Chairperson in consultation with the LC III Council.
Local Council Courts’ powers are limited to deciding the following types of criminal cases:
- Fighting and causing commotion;
- Being idle and disorderly;
- Beating up somebody in a way that does not cause very serious injuries;
- Intentionally and unlawfully damaging property that belongs to another person;
- Violence towards or abuse of another such as a child, partner, wife, husband at home.
Cases and matters of a civil nature which can be brought before and LC Court are:
- Failure or refusal to pay money owed;
- Disputes about contracts;
- Threatening someone with the act of making physical contact with him or her;
- Taking property of another without permission to do so (for instance, Joseph cuts down a tree belonging to Betty);
- Damage to the property of another;
- Entering another person’s property without their permission.
Note: In all cases stated above, LC Courts cannot decide cases where the value of the property in dispute or the damage caused or the value in recognition of loss, suffering, or injury incurred is over 2,000,000 Uganda Shillings.
LC Courts have also got powers to decide customary law issues such as:
- Disputes in respect of land held under customary tenure (handled by only LC II Court);
- Disputes concerning marriage, marital status, separation, divorce, child negligence or the parentage of children;
- Disputes relating to the identity of a customary heir;
- Transfer of personal property by one party into the possession, but not ownership, of another party for a particular purpose.
LC Courts can also make orders for;
- Restoration of relations;
- Return of something lost or stolen to its proper owner;
- Community service;
- Apology; or
What steps does a person take to lodge a complaint with the Local Council Court (LCC)?
- A complaint is lodged to the area Local Council1 where the matter happened or where the complainant or accused stays. Every village LCC can only handle cases within its territorial jurisdiction.
- The complaint may be in writing or oral but if made orally it shall be reduced into writing and signed by LC chairperson or the secretary and counter signed by the complainant.
- The Chairperson or Secretary will prepare and sign summons which will be delivered to the accused’s home indicating the complainant, place and time for hearing the matter.
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