The essence of gazetting: Understanding the Uganda Gazette

  • Published and printed by Uganda Printing and Publishing Corporation

By Kenneth Oluka

The Government Gazette, often referred to as The Uganda Gazette, is the official journal or newspaper of government that publishes laws, legal notices and public notices. The public notices are generated from Ministries, Government Departments and Agencies. The laws published in the Uganda Gazette are the authoritative version, and, the only published version.

Governments publish gazettes to communicate messages of national importance to the general public, to as part of legalizing process being undertaken; for instance, all activities related to general elections are normally gazetted. Therefore, where a law makes a requirement for gazetting, the relevant transaction is not legally compliant if such a requirement is not made and may be challenged in the courts of law.

The Uganda Gazette, derives authority and name from Article 257 of the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda and Section 2(ff) of the Interpretation Act Cap. 3, which state that the Gazette means The Uganda Gazette and includes any supplement of that Gazette. In that regard, The Uganda Gazette contains notices, government declarations and supplements of bills, acts, regulations, orders, statutes, statutory instruments, ordinances and legal notices. It also carries general notices. This means that The Uganda Gazette is the legal notice board of the country, which publishes the new laws, other matters of legal nature and general public notices. The mandate to publish laws is derived from Article 91(8) of the Constitution which requires all Bills and Acts of Parliament to be published in the Gazette. All notices in the Uganda Gazette are published by authority of Law, and are therefore afforded legal standing, and the Gazette itself is afforded special protection by the law.

The Uganda Gazette is published weekly, every Friday, except on public holidays; in that case the issue is published on the preceding Thursday. It also includes Extraordinary Gazettes, which are published on any other day than Friday when important and urgent issues arise. The Extraordinary Gazette is published on request by the relevant MDA, showing justification for the need to Gazette a particular notice urgently.

According to the Managing Director UPPC, Prof Tom Davis Wasswa, “The Uganda Gazette is the official and authentic legal public information to the extent that if anything is published in the Gazette, it can be taken that the public is duly informed about the matter contained therein.”

Wasswa adds that this is so because, “UPPC publishes The Uganda Gazette by authority of the Government of Uganda. It is mandated to officially print and publish public and/or legal notices and documents that assume the force of the laws of Uganda.”  He added that the authentic copies of laws as published in The Uganda Gazette are only obtainable from UPPC and its countrywide distribution points.”

If there is a requirement for a matter to be published in the Gazette under any enactment and the requirement is not complied with, it means the action under the requirement is not fully performed. “For example, if a notice is not published in the Gazette as by the law, then such a notice cannot be enforced in any legal transaction. It will therefore not have the intended legal effect,” he said.

Notices published in the Gazette include; applications for trademarks, deed polls, licensing of places of celebration of marriages, applications for special certificates of titles, notices for change of names by companies and insolvency, applications for certificate of eligibility for advocates, appointment of commissioners for oaths and notary publics, copyright applications, mining applications and grants of licenses, registration of private security firms, and industrial designs and notices from professional bodies.

Normally when notices are placed in the Gazette, the public is given some time to raise any opposition. “For trademarks, for instance a one-off advertisement is placed in The Uganda Gazette for a period of 60 days, to allow for any objection/opposition to be raised. If there is none, the Registrar of Trademarks will issue a certificate of registration to the applicant, upon payment of the prescribed fee,” he said.

All notices that are placed in the Gazette are required by law to be published because it is deemed to be in the public interest that the information, they contain be made available in the public domain.  The notices are placed by authorized persons acting in official capacity making it an official public record.

Much as the gazette notices are not conclusive evidence of the events and dates they notify, as stated by The Uganda Public Service Standing Orders, 2010 (Section P-f), it provides a permanent, official public record of important statutory and non-statutory notices that can be used to support legal and other processes. As the official public record, the Gazette is often cited in legislation and is considered by the courts and other legal organizations to be the most authentic source of legal information.

The writer is Editor Uganda Gazette


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