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Unpublished Paper
Proving Customary Law in Uganda: Roadmaps and Roadblocks
Written for subsequent publication in South Africa (2014)
  • David B Dennison, Uganda Christian University

Customary law is second-class law in Uganda. While customary law applies in many “grass root” settings, customary law struggles for legitimacy within formal legal environments. Matters of customary proof exemplify this disconnect. Ugandan methods of customary proof are the product of British colonial precedent. Despite longstanding calls for revised approaches, little has changed since Uganda’s independence in 1962. The colonially crafted framework of customary proof devalues custom and culture. In terms of proof, Ugandan courts treat customary law less favorably than foreign law. Judges have no duty to know customary law. Instead customary law is a fact to be proved. Judges with knowledge and expertise in customary law are not allowed to use that knowledge to pronounce customary law. The present approach to proving customary law in Uganda is in need of reform. The judiciary is the most likely actor that can provide this reform. Unfortunately recent appellant decisions do not offer any indication that reform is Imminent.

  • Customary Law,
  • Evidence,
  • Uganda,
  • Kimani,
  • Mifumi
Publication Date
Citation Information
David B Dennison. "Proving Customary Law in Uganda: Roadmaps and Roadblocks" Written for subsequent publication in South Africa (2014)
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