With the aim of promoting public interest lawyering and the pro bono spirit in Uganda, the Network of Public Interest Lawyers (NETPIL) was officially launched in May 2015. The establishment of the Network was spearheaded by the Public Interest Law Clinic (PILAC) at Makerere University, School of Law to foster greater engagement of lawyers in public interest litigation and advocacy towards achieving social justice and greater protection of fundamental rights for all.
venue: Makerere University
Date: 30th to 31st Aug 2017
Thematic Group meetings
Thematic Group meetings.
Litigation is where a legal complaint is initiated before the court by a person who believes he/she has suffered, or is suffering, harm.
For the litigation to be successful, that person must demonstrate to the court that he/she has been legally wronged (in other words, that person’s legal rights have been breached).
As the term suggests, PIL describes legal action that is taken in order to advance a “good cause” or issue of public importance. Examples could include cases brought to:
The formal finding that a legal wrong has been done is extremely important. The court's official endorsement of one party’s version of the facts over another’s shows the rightfulness of the successful party’s position and this can have long-reaching consequences. It can lead to the court taking positive or preventative action to offer protection to the group or interest facing threat.
Although financial compensation may not seem an appropriate solution to some complaints, its suitability or symbolic value in certain situations should be recognised. Furthermore, compensation may, in some cases, be a complete and suitable remedy for a group who believe they have been wronged.
For more serious or systemic issues such as murder, rape, or gender inequality, compensation alone cannot fully provide a just solution. In such cases, better law enforcement, law reform or social change, is necessary. This is a second goal of PIL: to create a legal precedent for the future so that hopefully, no other individual or group will suffer the same the wrong.
Often rulings by constitutional or supreme courts are legally binding, which means they need to be taken into account when writing laws in the future. In some systems and in certain courts, legal rulings may necessitate parliamentary action.
Finally, PIL can be used to achieve a broader objective than simply winning or defending a case. The very process of bringing or defending a case may raise public awareness of an issue and foster public support for change in a law or practice. In this way, PIL may aid other methods of promoting change like lobbying, political activism, or demonstrations.
When considering whether to use PIL, a group must define a clear objective for doing so. Think carefully if PIL is the best method to achieve your goal, and if so, which solution or remedy to request. Clear goals and careful planning are essential pre-requisites for bringing any PIL to court.
AddressPublic Interest Law Clinic School of Law, Makerere University
Office HoursMon - Friday, 9:00 - 5:00