The Commercial Court in Kampala has ordered a company connected to the United States to pay a ugandan businessman, a one Barry Mpeirwe over Shs1billion.
Court was ruling in a case that Mpeirwe reported in 2014. In his submissions in court, Mpeirwe said he had been employed as a general manager by ALSACO International Ltd since April, 26 2013. ALSACO had secured a contract with the Client Global Integrated Security which holds a World Protection Services contract with the United States Government for provision of security at various United States installations.
At the commencement of this engagement, Mpeirwe and a one Alok Dheer, the CEO of ALSACO, had agreed that he would receive 30% interest in the shares and in the business proceeds in ALSACO in consideration of his role in securing the contract and as an employee managing the performance of the company.
However, Dheer violated the contract when he started channeling all company proceeds to his personal account instead of the company’s account.
Mpeirwe said that as a result, the company frequently found itself without locally available operational funds because Dheer had been deported from Uganda for lacking a work permit and coming into Uganda illegally upon which he (Mpeirwe) worked hard to process a work permit for him and manage company expenses in which he used his personal funds upon request by the Dheer with clear understanding that a refund would be forthcoming when he returned to Uganda. The sums had accumulated to Shs90, 000,000 at the time he filed the case but in spite his several demands to recover his money, the Defendants refused to pay.
In his response, Dheer denied some of Mpeirwe’s claims. However, he admitted some facts in the plaint particularly that he had refused to pay for his services. He told court that any work the Plaintiff performed was paid for.
And for the three months that he wasn’t paid, “the Plaintiff abandoned his employment with the 1st Defendant (ALSACO International Ltd) for other engagements in Somalia, taking with him company property despite attempts by the Defendants contacting him to come”. Though, Dheer denied ever granting Mpeirwe, who was an employee any authority whatsoever to manage the company, saying that even while he was in India, he would issue instructions by email to him and other employees in regards to matters of running the company.
In further reply, the Defendants aver that the Plaintiff neither spent his personal savings nor was he ever requested to do so on any of the company operations to be entitled to a refund and that the Plaintiff has never acquired any interest in the Defendant company so as to share in its business proceeds.
In court’s ruling delivered by Justice Christopher Madrama Izama, Dheer was ordered to pay Shs89.5million to Mpeirwe.
“I have considered his testimony in writing and cross examination as well as the various documents preceding the table of expenditure at pages 72 – 73 and my conclusion is that the Plaintiff (Mpeirwe) has proved that he incurred Uganda shillings 89, 561,400/= which is hereby awarded to the Plaintiff as money used by the Defendant for the benefit of the Defendants business from the Plaintiff.”
However, he was denied the 30% shares in the company which he had requested for on grounds that he failed to prove there had been such a contract between him and the company. Court heard the contract had been verbal, a thing he couldn’t prove.
“The prayer for arrears of salary at the rate of US$ 650 per month for the period January, February and March 2014 is allowed and the Plaintiff is awarded.”
Regarding the prayer for general damages, the Plaintiff did not prove what exact benefit he would have earned in the business arrangement with the first Defendant. He however had expectations in doing business with the first Defendant and the second Defendant acknowledged that he was like a partner and not just an employee.
“From the Plaintiffs testimony, the first Defendant was earning about US$ 80,000/= per month. In the premises, the Plaintiff is awarded general damages for expectation to earn from the deal of US$ 50,000. In the premises, the sums awarded will carry reasonable interest of 19% per annum on the awards in Uganda shillings 89, 561,400/= from the date the suit was filed till payment in full. The rest of the awards were made in US$ and carry interest at a date of 10% per annum on the damages in lieu of notice and salary arrears from the date of filing the suit till date of judgment. Awards in Uganda shillings carry interest at 19% per annum from the date of judgment till payment in full.”
The Plaintiff is represented by Titus Biterekezi while the Defendants were represented by Nelson Walusimbi.