Guide last updated by Alice Tyson, July 2021
This guide was written by Joseph Semugabi, Chief Librarian of the Law Development Centre in Uganda. It has since been updated by IALS Library staff.
We also recommend the following online research guides for foreign jurisdictions.
The Republic of Uganda is a land-locked country located in East Africa. It became a British Protectorate in 1894, the territory of Buganda in the central-southern region being recognized as a separate kingdom under its Kabaka (king). In 1961 it was granted internal self-government with federal status for Buganda. It obtained independence in 1962 and became a Republic in 1967.
Under the Independence Constitution of 1962 a unicameral National Assembly replaced the Legislative Council - an arrangement which lasted until 1971 when democratic institutions were abolished under the dictatorial rule of Idi Amin (1971 - 79). When Amin was overthown an Interim Parliament was set up and it acted as the Supreme Legislative Body until 1980. It was then replaced by the Fourth Parliament which lasted until 1985 when the government was overthrown in yet another military coup. Meanwhile the civil war which had been raging since 1981 was to come to an end in 1986 when the National Resistance Movement under Lt. General Museveni came to power and set up the National Resistance Council. This lasted until 1994 when a Constituent Assembly was established to finalize the new constitution promulgated in 1996. Under this Constitution the supreme legislative body is the unicameral Parliament of Uganda. Museveni still remains the President.
The IALS Library Uganda collections include both primary and secondary legal materials, that is, legislation, law reports, text books and journals.
Since independence from British rule Uganda has had four Constitutions dated 1962, 1966, 1967 and 1995. The preparation of the first three Constitutions excluded the participation of the ordinary citizenry. It is the 1995 Constitution that has been most liberal and enduring. It was enacted and promulgated on 8th October 1995 by the peoples' elected Constituent Assembly, effectively replacing the 1967 Constitution, popularly known as the 'pigeon hole' constitution. In effect the country had returned, albeit progressively, to democratic governance, rule of law and the observance of basic human rights.
Since its promulgation the 1995 Constitution has been Amendended multiple times. The Reprint of the Constitution reflecting amendments up to February 2006 is available at IALS Library on Level L2 and can be cited as: The Constitution of the Republic of Uganda (as at 15th February 2006); Kampala: Uganda Law Reform Commission , with Classmark GI3.C.1 UGA. Be aware that print verions will not always incorporate the most recent amendments.
Also available at the IALS are texts of Uganda's previous constitutions, i.e., 1962, 1966 [Depository 17488/32905] & 1967 [Depository 32904/GI3.C.1 AAA], as well as various materials on constitutionalism and the constitutional making process in Uganda.
Other sources of the constitution at the IALS Library include the printed 2000 Revised Edition of the Laws of Uganda Vol. 1; and World Constitutions Illustrated, a module of the HeinOnline subscription database.
On the web, a version of the Constitution incorporating amendments is available from the the Uganda Legal Information Institute (ULII).
IALS Library has both the colonial and post colonial legislation of Uganda. This includes:
The inconsistency in terminology evident when describing the laws of Uganda is due to the different types of politico-legal systems typical of colonial and post-colonial Uganda.
The Laws of Uganda are supposed to be revised and consolidated every 10 years. The latest revision, which is also available in the Library, is the 2000 Revised Laws of Uganda constituting both Acts and Subsidiary Legislation in two sets colored red for the Acts and blue for Subsidiary legislation. This is a set of 28 volumes numbered accordingly whereby Volume 1 - 13 constitute Principal Legislation and Volume 14 - 28 constitute Subsidiary Legislation. The 2000 Edition replaced the 1964 Edition which is also available in the library.
The older laws from 1895 - 1964 constitute a substantial and arguably complete collection that provides a one-stop source of information about the evolution of Uganda's legal system. These are listed in the Catalogue and include:
Secondary sources of legislation prepared under specific subjects in law are also available in the library and include:
These are however classified as monographs.
IALS holds series of the official Ugandan Law Reports since the colonial era. All series are duly listed in the library catalogue. They include:
The following constitute the Un-Official Reports:
Other regional Law Reports where Ugandan cases are also reported include the East African Law Reports 1957 – 1975, 1995 – 2003, 2007 Vol. 1&2.
Uganda Law Reports can also be freely obtained from online sources like the Uganda Legal Information Institute (ULII) website.
IALS has a small selection of reports and other publications by Ugandan official bodies such as the Inspector General of Government (IGG) and the Uganda Law Reform Commission. All these publications are duly listed in the catalogue.
The British Library has a substantial collection of official publications from Uganda, including the Uganda Gazette and its forerunners. For more information, see the British Library website.
Other official publications may be available on government websites.
The IALS Library has books dealing with law and politics as well as secondary sources of legislation and cases of Uganda. Most of these are located on the shelves at level L2 and available for borrowing. Over 50% of the books are publications from the 1990s and 2000s.
The following subjects are represented in this collection: contract law, land law, revenue law, equity & trusts, constitutionalism, civil and criminal practice, tort, human rights, banking and insurance.
There are also a few materials discussing Ugandan politics as well as compendiums of legislation and cases in relation to a particular subject matter in law.
All of these materials are accessible via the catalogue.
IALS also has e-books with content relating to Uganda. These are generally comparative or subject-focused, but with relevant chapters or examples. They can be found via a keyword search for Uganda on the library catalogue.
There is only one Uganda journal in the IALS Library. This is a publication of the Law Development Centre called Uganda Law Focus: a Law Quarterly Journal of Reviews, opinions and information on the state and future development of law in Uganda. The holdings are incomplete.
Judiciary of Uganda: the Uganda courts website
Parliament of the Republic of Uganda: Hansard, order papers, reports, bills, as well as other documents
Uganda Law Reform Commission: development of legislation
Researching Ugandan Law: Globalex research guide (Houser Global Law Program, New York University)
World Legal Information Institute (WorldLII) : Uganda section, providing case law and links to other websites.
Justice Law & Order Sector (JLOS): all institutions involved in the administration of justice in Uganda.
Legislation Uganda (Lexadin): Laws of Uganda, including the constitution
Law Guide on Uganda - Library of Congress: legal system and constitution