Country: Uganda

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BAT Uganda Ltd. v. Attorney General and the Minister of Health [Uganda] [February 01, 2021]

British American Tobacco Uganda (BATU) challenged Uganda's Tobacco Control Regulations, 2019. BATU's court submissions raised a number of substantive and procedural claims, including the insufficient time to implement warnings, size of warnings, ban on some misleading descriptors, and flavoring ban. BATU sought and was granted a temporary injunction suspending implementation of Regulations 3, 4, 5, and 6. However, BAT subsequently withdrew its complaint and the injunction was lifted. 

BAT Uganda Ltd v. Attorney General & Center for Health, Human Rights and Development [Uganda] [May 28, 2019]

British American Tobacco Uganda (BATU), a subsidiary of British American Tobacco, filed a lawsuit in the Constitutional Court of Uganda in 2016 challenging the constitutionality of several key provisions in the Tobacco Control Act, 2015. The Court dismissed the Petition in its entirety and awarded costs to the government. The Court found that the Petition appeared to have been misconceived or brought in bad faith as part of a global strategy to fight tobacco control legislation. The challenged provisions upheld by the Court include provisions:

- requiring 65% or larger picture health warnings;
- banning smoking in all indoor public places and workplaces, on all means of public transport, and in specified outdoor public places;
- banning all tobacco advertising, promotion, and sponsorship, including product displays at points of sale;
- prohibiting the sale of tobacco products in specified places (health institutions, schools, prisons, and other places);
- prohibiting the import, manufacture, distribution, and sale of electronic nicotine delivery systems, and shisha, smokeless, and flavored tobacco;
- banning the sale of tobacco products through vending machines and through remote means of sale (e.g., mail, internet); and
- implementing WHO FCTC Article 5.3.

The Environmental Action Network Ltd. (TEAN) v. British American Tobacco Ltd. [Uganda] [April 16, 2003]

The Environmental Action Network Ltd (TEAN) sued British American Tobacco Limited (BAT), claiming that BAT failed to warn consumers of the danger of its tobacco products, violating consumers' right to life. TEAN requested that the Court order BAT to provide sufficient information on health risks to consumers in advertisements and on packets. The Court held that the claim of failure to warn was too remote to establish a causation between tobacco products and harm to consumers' lives. Due to lack of expertise, the Court could not fully and sufficiently decide which kind of information should be included in labels and publications.

Eryau v. The Environmental Action Network Ltd. (TEAN) [Uganda] [June 19, 2002]

A smoker seeks to be heard in a separate court case brought by TEAN, a civil society organization, against the Attorney General of Uganda and the National Environmental Management Authority to create and enforce a ban on smoking in public places.  The applicant claims to be a former tobacco industry employee who smokes and was concerned about the respondent's request for enforcement of criminal penalties for smoking in public places.  The court said the criminal aspects of the respondent’s case were dismissed so that could no longer be a ground for the current application.  The court also took judicial notice of the fact that smoking and especially second-hand smoke is dangerous to public health.  The court dismissed the applicant as an “obstructionist” and refused his application to be heard in the respondent’s case seeking a ban on smoking in public places.

Eryau v. The Environmental Action Network Ltd. (TEAN) [Uganda] [September 20, 2001]

The Environmental Action Network (TEAN) brought an action against the Attorney General of Uganda and the National Environmental Management Authority to create and enforce a ban on smoking in public places.  In this decision, the court ruled on whether a smoker may join that case.   The smoker, a former tobacco industry employee, was concerned about the request for enforcement of criminal penalties for smoking in public places.  In this ruling TEAN requested to cross examine the smoker because his application was submitted by affidavit.  The court rules that it would serve the interests of justice to have the applicant examined in court and orders him to appear at a later date for the purpose of cross examination.

The Environmental Action Network Ltd. (TEAN) v. The Attorney General & National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) [Uganda] [August 28, 2001]

On behalf of itself and non-smoking people, the Environmental Action Network (TEAN) sued the government seeking protections from smoking in public places. TEAN contended such measures were required for the general good of public health in Uganda and to enforce the right to a clean and healthy environment and the right to life. The Government maintained that 1) it did not have enough time for investigation after the case was filed and 2) the application was based on hearsay -- the applicant company is not an expert on the effects of secondary cigarette smoke and the applicant could not claim to represent the Ugandan public. The court overruled the objections stating that 1) when people's rights are infringed, the government is responsible for investigation before the actual damage is done; 2) scientific reports are sufficient to prove the harm of cigarette smoke; and 3) the representative does not need to have the same interests as the represented group if claim is for the public interest. The application was allowed to be heard.

Oribi v. British American Tobacco [Uganda] [November 24, 2000]

An individual who smoked since 1985 and subsequently suffered detrimental health effects brought a suit against BAT claiming misrepresentation based on their health warnings on cigarette packs.  This ruling addresses BAT’s preliminary attempt to dismiss the claims on the grounds of a statute of limitations violation, failure to state a claim and frivolous litigation.  While the court is suspect of the merits of the misrepresentation claim, it holds that none of the grounds for dismissal are appropriate at this preliminary stage and the claimant should have an opportunity to make his case at trial.  The motions to dismiss are rejected.

Okumu v. B.A.T. & Mastermind Tobacco Ltd. [Uganda] [November 24, 2000]

Thomas Okumu sued British American Tobacco (BAT) and Mastermind Tobacco Ltd, claiming that the defective nature of their cigarettes caused him to develop lung cancer.

This order discusses procedural matters related to the case as well as whether the case is a representative action or a public interest suit.  (Okumu contended that the case is a public interest suit.)  The Court ruled that (1) the case is a representative action because, among other reasons, it was filed as a class action, but that (2) the suit is barred by law.  Accordingly, the Court did not reach other procedural issues.