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The Legal Ethics and Professionalism Handbook a Symbol of Ethical Reawakening in Uganda

The old adage of law being conjured into a profession by a liar who knew how to defend their every lie was contested in the launch of Legal Ethics and Professionalism a Handbook published by globethics.net and authored by renowned law practitioners in Uganda such as Justice James Ogoola and Justice Mike Chibita.

The project which was spearheaded by Brian Dennison at the Uganda Christian University in Mukono District culminated in a relevant book which Justice Ogoola described as essential for East Africa and not just Uganda.

According to Dennison Globethics.net had published the book free on the internet and at an affordable price in print. He hailed the book as a great resource for teaching legal ethics. On the other hand Justice Ogoola in the keynote address argued that the book would be used by all law practitioners.

Speaking passionately about ethics Justice Ogoola noted that an unethical advocate is a loose and dangerous canon that belongs at the back of a prison cell. "It would be better if such an advocate is tied to the rock of professional conduct and drowned. He is a poison to the justice of our noble system," he remarked.

While launching the book Hon. Miria Matembe the Guest of Honor reminisced about why she did law. "My desire to study law was to have justice for women growing up in my village as a young girl I experienced discrimination which I saw as unfair and unjust all this created in me an inquiring mind as to why it was happening. At the age of 9 I learned that when a person committed a crime they got a pleader to plead for him or her. When I inquired what a pleader was I was told it was someone who had studied law that is when I decided in my mind that when I grow up I was going to become a lawyers. My dream was to plead for women and had nothing to do with money." She decried the law system in Uganda to have declined ethically and adapted unethical conduct which hindered justice. However she welcomed the publication of the book as the reawakening of ethics the legal system in Uganda needed.

Contributors to the books also made presentations citing the qualms of confidentiality, the existing legal ethics in Uganda and indicating the timeliness of the book. The launch was concluded with a vote of thanks to the editors Brian Dennison and Dr. Pamela, the contributors Justice Ogoola, Justice Mike Chibita, Patison Arinaitwe, Sam Kiriaghe, Sarah Taboswa and Dr. Winnie Kiryabwire as well as Globethics.net.

Introduction

The event was conducted on March 20, 2015 at Sheraton Hotel organized by the Faculty of Law Uganda Christian University with the Keynote Address presented by Justice James Ogoola and the Launch undertaken by former Minster of Ethics Uganda Hon Miria Matembe.

Presentations

The editors of the book Dr. Pamela Tibihikira and Mr. Brian Dennison gave a brief about the experience of compiling the book. Brian pointed out how globethics.net had offered to publish the book after reviewing it and that it was on the online e-library for free and printed for an affordable cost. The book is to be sold at 50,000UGX but could be accessed on Amazon at 25$.

Justice Ogoola in the keynote address pointed out:

  • Reconsideration of calling the book Handbook for Uganda since it would apply to the rest of East Africa
  • Ethics was the soul of all legal practice
  • Law without ethics was hollow
  • Legal practice without ethics is a mockery
  • The book was not just a text book but was intended for practitioners of the law in and out of school, in court and out of court, in business etc.

Hon Miria Matembe

  • Ethics is about what is wrong or right but this is according to the expectations of the people meant to be served
  • The legal system was not protecting the weak
  • She became a lawyer to plead for justice (women rights)
  • When ethical values are broken down it is not easy to know what is ethical or not

Book Contributors

Contributors gave the audience a little insight into what they had written e.g. Dr. Winnie Kiryabwire made her presentation pointing out how students enrolling for law were money minded rather that attuned to justice. Patson Arinaitwe pointed out the hurdles (e.g. technology) in upholding confidentiality in the law profession and Justice Mike Chibita talked a bit about Judiciary Ethics defending the Law Council as still being effective despite the conduct of some few unethical practitioners.

Closure: The launch was closed with a vote of thanks being given to the contributors, guest of honor and Globethics.net. Participants were encouraged to look up Globethics.net online and use the e-library as well as contribute.