Judicial Structure

Office of the Chief Justice: The Chief Justice is the head of the Judiciary responsible for the administration and supervision of all courts in Uganda including those that do not administratively fall within the Judiciary and may issue orders and directions to the courts necessary for proper and efficient administration of justice.

Key Functions:

  • Efficient and speedy delivery of justice to all people of Uganda;
  • Implementation of Government legal polices and laws;
  • Efficient and effective administration and supervision of all judicial officers of both lower and higher benches;
  • Adequate staffing of judiciary with qualified and trained legal officers;
  • Deployment,promotion and discipline of judicial officers; and
  • Monitoring performance of judicial officers through the Principal Judge and the Chief Registrar.

Office of the Deputy Chief Justice: The Deputy Chief Justice assisted by seven judges; heads the Court of Appeal. As a Court of Appeal it must have a minimum of three justices at any sitting. While sitting as a Constitutional Court, it must have a minimum of five Justices to constitute a Constitutional Court.

There are at present fifteen Justices including the Deputy Chief Justice; however, it should be noted that two of the fifteen are on special duty outside the Judiciary. The Deputy Chief Justice is assisted by a Senior Magistrate Grade I as his/her Personal Assistant and a Registrar who is responsible for general administration of the court, arranging trials of cases, preparing cause lists and assessing costs recoverable by litigants.

Office of the Principal Judge: The High Court is headed by the Honorable Principal Judge who manages the High Court, including the decentralized High Court Circuits, and is further responsible for the Magistrates Courts.

Establishment of the Office of the Principal Judge: The Principal Judge reporting to the Chief Justice who is assisted by the High Court Judges of the eight Divisions and Resident High Court Judges in twenty circuits; heads the High Court. He/she is responsible for the supervision of the Judges and Chief Magistrates in the Country. The day-to-day management of the High Court is carried out by the Registrar High Court reporting to the Chief Registrar and assisted Deputy Registrars.

Office of the Chief Registrar: The Office of the Registrar is created by Article 145 (1) of the Constitution. The Chief Registrar, who is the level of Permanent Secretary and carries out management of the Judiciary on a day-today basis, heads the Registrars. The Chief Registrar is also the official spokesperson of the Judiciary.

Registrar sand Deputy Registrars also have judicial powers within their respective areas of jurisdiction, under the provisions of Order 46 of the Civil Procedures Rules. These Rules empower Registrars to take all preliminary steps before trial and hear all interlocutory applications. The statutory instrument of 31/12/2002 increased the judicial powers and jurisdiction of Registrars.

Deputy Registrars: Order 44 Civil Procedures Rules provides for powers of Deputy Registrars. Chief Magistrates perform this role at High Court circuit stations where there are no Deputy Registrars. The main objective of this office is to direct, supervise and coordinate the functioning of the Courts of Judicature to ensure that justice is delivered in accordance with the mission of the Judiciary through Registrars and Chief Magistrates.

Key Functions:

  • Formulation of policy proposals for administration of Courts of Judicature;
  • Development and review of action plans and performance of the judiciary against set targets;
  • Coordination of court inspection schedules;
  • Assessment of resource needs including human resources;
  • Analysis of court activities to monitor performance of courts;
  • Maintenance,storage and security of case information and court records;
  • Supervision of Registrars and Chief Magistrates (Administrative) of courts of Judicature;
  • Coordination of training needs, development of training guidelines and implementation of training programs.

There are parallel centers of authority at the level of Permanent Secretary, with the Chief Registrar heading the technical branch consisting of judicial activities of the organization, and the Secretary to Judiciary heading the Finance and Administration branch.

Magistrates Grade I are stationed at Chief Magistrates' courts assisting the Chief Magistrates. It is however, intended to have all sub county courts under Magistrates Grade I as Magistrates Grade II are being phased out in order to professionalize the lower bench. These courts are mandated to handle civil and criminal cases within jurisdiction.

Key Functions:

  • Adjudication of civil and criminal cases and settlement of disputes within the community;
  • Hearing and determination of criminal cases;
  • Making rulings to free, fine or sentence in accordance with the legal statutes;
  • Education of public in the basic tenets of law;
  • Control of the operational funds.

Grade I and Grade II Magistrate Courts are different and have different judicial powers in determining cases. It is however, the policy of Government to phaseout Grade II Magistrates so that Magistrates Grade I manage all lower courts.This is intended to professionalize the bench and improve efficiency.