The Court of Appeal has dismissed an application by Fred Mukasa Mbidde and Micheal Mabikke to block the Law Development Center from investigating them for alleged examination malpractice with a view of revoking their post graduate diplomas.
About three years ago, Law Development Center set up a forensic audit team to look into the alleged examination malpractices for the Bar course for the 2004/05 to 2010/11 academic year.
The move triggered panic amongst several lawyers fearing that their postgraduate law diplomas could be recalled.
As a result, Fred Mukasa Mbidde and Michael Mabikke, both city lawyers petitioned High court by way of judicial review seeking among others to stop the forensic audit but lost the application.
Dissatisfied with the High court ruling, the duo opted to appeal before the Court of Appeal.
In their application, the duo said they were shocked upon learning from media reports that the forensic audit report issued by LDC had declared their post graduate diplomas invalid and fake.
They argued that the trial High Court Judge Vincent Zehurikize erred in law when he failed to nullify the forensic audit committee of the Bar Course examinations yet it was improperly constituted.
They also argued that it was too late to withdraw their Postgraduate Law Diplomas since they had already enrolled as advocates and are in private practice.
On Thursday, three Justices of the court of appeal include Augustine Nshimye, Kenneth Kakuru and Geoffrey Kiryabwire dismissed the application with costs.
In their ruling the judges noted that the Management Committee of the respondent has very wide powers under Section 4 and 8 of the LDC Act.
They argued that it was well within “the powers of the LDC Management Committee to set up a forensic committee to investigate the allegations and come with a report that would form the basis of the decision by the management committee as to whether or not there existed substance in the allegations as to require a fully flagged investigation.”
They also dismissed claims by the applicants that they were not accorded a hearing by LDC as the natural rules of justice demand before attempting to revoke their papers.
The judges held that the forensic audit committee was set up just to gather data and it was not a probe committee that would require calling those affected to defend themselves.
“The forensic audit committee therefore was not a tribunal and as such it was not required to take evidence or to make any binding decisions,” ruled the justices.
They added that “there was no accuser or accused before the forensic audit committee and therefore no dispute to resolve.”
It now remains to be seen whether LDC will go ahead and revoke the diplomas of the affected lawyers.