By Kampala Sun writer
Two highflying members have lost a suit challenging their expulsion from the affluent members-only Kampala Club over theft of drinks.
John Barisigara and Edith Kagimu ran to the High court’s civil division challenging their expulsion from the Club on October 7, 2016, for their alleged involvement in the theft of drinks during the end-of-year party which took place between December 31 2015, and January 1, 2016.
Kampala Club which was founded in 1911, offers exclusive sporting facilities to its 650 exclusive members.
According to the court records, Barisigara was the Kampala Club entertainment sub-committee chairperson while Kagimu was co-opted as a member of the organizing committee for the end-of-year party.
According to the Observer publication, Barisigara in his capacity as the chairperson obtained five bottles of whisky/spirits from the Club’s cash bar and took them to some members on the high table who preferred whisky to beers.
He reportedly requested the general manager of the Club at the end of the party to exchange 12 of the 14 crates of beer that were left unconsumed for the five bottles of whisky/spirits, which he had obtained from the bar. However, after the party, it was discovered that a large number of drinks, especially beers and wines were unaccounted for. Both Kagimu and Barisigara were tasked to provide an explanation and accountability for the drinks.
They were first referred to the disciplinary sub-committee to defend themselves on the accusations of stealing drinks and breach of the club constitution and rules. They submitted written explanations, which were found unsatisfactory. Acting on the recommendations in the report of the disciplinary sub-committee, the club executive decided to expel the duo.
Dissatisfied with the decision, Kagimu and Barisigara petitioned the High court through their lawyers led by Moses Kimuli on grounds that they were not accorded a fair hearing. They also denied fraudulently taking the drinks from the Club premises because they were obtained from the general manager and the empty beer bottles returned.
Kimuli blamed the general manager for failing to exchange the drinks as asked by his clients. He asked the High court to declare the expulsion of his clients unjustifiable – because they did not steal drinks. In response, Doreen Brenda, the Kampala Club lawyer asked court to dismiss the case on grounds that, the laws governing the Club members, require such grievances to be solved internally and that the case was wrongly filed in court.
She also explained that the petitioners got a fair hearing before the decision to expel them from the Club was reached, adding that they were informed about the allegations against them in writing and given an opportunity to respond. In his ruling, the High court judge, Musa Ssekaana agreed with Kampala Club’s submissions and accordingly dismissed the case.
He reasoned that the constitution of a voluntary organisation is a contract, resulting in a contractual relationship between the association and its members.
“This means the applicant is bound by the constitution and all internal rules and regulations as well as internal mechanisms for resolving such disputes before resorting to filing cases in High court. Otherwise allowing every dispute in a private club to end in High court will add to the backlog problem in Uganda,” ruled Ssekaana.
Adding that “since the plaintiffs’ case was about internal processes of Kampala Club, which is a voluntary private members club, the nature of the complaint of unfair or wrongful expulsion should have been dealt with internally guided by their constitution.”
According to Ssekaana, clubs are given great deference to manage their own affairs and in the disciplining of their membership, adding that the case was incompetently filed in the court.