JurisAfrica is an online law reporting service, the property of Africa Law Reporter Online. It is the product of several years of work and effort by its founder Mr. Justice Francis M. Ssekandi, former Justice of Appeal in Uganda*. Justice Ssekandi was Director of the Law Development Centre before being appointed a Judge of the High Court of Uganda in 1974. As Director he was charged with, among other functions, the development of the Centre as the main training and research institution for Uganda. In this regard he launched a Law Journal, named the Uganda Law focus, established a publishing house named the LDC Publishers and started the re-publication of the Uganda Law Reports, which had ceased publication with Volume VII, for the years 1956-57.
The Center published the Volumes for 1972-74. Unfortunately, as a result of the political turmoil in Uganda, the exercise stalled and no more volumes have been published since. Private efforts have resulted in the publication of the Kampala Law Reports, and a Canadian online law reporting service, Quicklaw and a Kenya based on line law reporting service, Lawafrica, have included some judgments from Uganda on their websites. A project is under way to publish the Uganda Law Reports for the missing years, but to the best of our knowledge, this too has been hampered by financial constraints.
JurisAfrica intends to cooperate with ongoing efforts and other institutions in Uganda and elsewhere to commence publication of the Uganda Law Reports on line. However, JurisAfrica will not be limited to publishing the Uganda Law Reports. With financial support, JurisAfrica will expand to fill a void, which exists to-day, making the availability of African legal materials a total rarity. The publications on JurisAfrica will include the latest case law and legislation, as well as decisions of arbitral tribunals.
In order to make this service affordable to African users, it is the intention of the founder to solicit grants from interested institutions, to join in funding this effort, which will become one of the cornerstones in the drive to promote Good Governance in Africa. There is no disputing that the prevailing legal systems in Africa and the law administered by the courts, are viewed by most Africans as foreign, the product of several years of colonial rule. The majority of the people in Africa live under a completely different legal regime, based on ancient customs, and known as Customary Law. Some blame the total breakdown of law and order on the abandonment of this law during colonial rule and the following years of independence. But there is no denying that the prevailing legal regimes administer a law totally divorced from the real life of most populations in Africa, and inaccessible to even those called upon to administer it, which limits its use or usefulness in the resolution of disputes.
The challenge facing lawyers and judges to-day is to find the means of making the prevailing law not only understandable to the people but also acceptable to them. A way of doing this might be to introduce transparence and therefore accountability in the way the law is made and administered, dissemination of the law and decisions as widely as possible, and inviting participation by as many of the inhabitants as possible in its development. The purpose of these endeavors should be to assign the Customary Law its rightful place as the principal law of the land, and the fountain of the principles of law applied by the courts, in the interpretation of the imported and statutory law, in the same way as the Common Law is used in the Anglo-American Legal System. In order to achieve this purpose, it is the intention of the publishers to be conscious of this objective in the selection of cases and to try to promote the growth of a common law of Africa, which would contribute to advance the unification of the Continent.
* For more information on Mr. Justice Francis M. Ssekandi, please click on the links below:
- Francis M. Ssekandi, the founder of this website, is an International Legal Consultant, with some 55 years of legal practice. He specializes in International Law, International Commercial Law and International Trade Law. He has consulted with Governments, the United Nations and other organizations providing legal support in procurement, Institutions, Finance, Governance, Legislative and Judicial Reforms. Justice Ssekandi also worked in the United Nations, in the Office of Legal Affairs from 1981 to 1997 and served as General Counsel of the African Development Bank from 1997 to 2000. He has taught African Law at Columbia Law School, New York, from 2001 until 2019. And, from 2007-2014, was a Judge at the World Bank Administrative Tribunal. He continues to be a member of the London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA), a member on the Panel of Arbitrators of the International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), on the Panel of the United Nations Award Review Board (ARB) and the Panel of Arbitration of IRENA — The International Renewable Energy Agency. The experience he has accumulated, as a Judge in the Uganda High Court, Justice of Appeal on the Supreme Court of Uganda, International Civil Servant and Judge at the World Bank Administrative Tribunal, has well equipped Justice Ssekandi with the skills and ability to direct the management of this website.