The Draconian Time Limitation Clause Against Private Litigants of the East African Court of Justice: A Commentary on Steven Dennis Case
iCourts Working Paper Series, No. 103, 2017
18 Pages Posted: 14 Aug 2017
Date Written: August 11, 2017
This commentary exposes the time-limitation obstacle facing private litigants in accessing one of the African regional economic community judiciaries: the East African Court of Justice (EACJ). Steven Dennis v AG of Burundi & Others (Steven Dennis case) is the latest attempt that challenged the legality of the EACJ time limitation rule established under article 30(2) of the East African Community (EAC) Treaty. In that case, the applicant vowed to nullify article 30(2) of the Treaty, which confines private litigants to file cases before the EAC within two months. The provision is sketched in a discriminatory manner, as it is only applicable to private litigants, but not to other subjects subscribing to the Court. It should be recalled that article 30(2) was introduced during the 2007 disputed and faulted EAC Treaty amendment process. Having that in mind, perceiving article 30(2) was purposely inserted to curb direct individual access to the EACJ is logical. Coming into terms, EACJ’s strict interpretation on the article is causing many litigants not to be able to have their matters heard before the Court. This commentary, therefore, looks at Steven Dennis case, revealing the potential impact it may have to private litigants in accessing the EACJ. It is argued in this commentary that poor litigation strategies and the precedence from EACJ Appellate Division are major reasons for the dismissal of the case by the First Instance Division.
Keywords: EACJ, Private litigants, time-limitation, article 30(2), Accessibility, Justice
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