• Francis Obonyo
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An administrator is under an obligation to act in good faith because she /he holds a noble and onerous duty says Her Lordship Catherine Bamugemereire.

Being an Administrator is a noble and onerous duty an administrator holds, and they are under a duty to always act in good faith and to give account to the beneficiaries of the estate and the Court. This was stated by Her Lordship Catherine Bamugemereire in a High Court Civil Suit No. 27 of 2011(High Court Civil Suit No. 148 of 2012 (Consolidated)) Annet Namirimu Ndaula V Rev Aloni Mulondo and Others.

The Plaintiff is the Administratrix of the Estate of her husband the Samuel Kayondo Ndaula (deceased). She was granted Letters of Administration, together with her two daughters Stella Nkizi and Ruth Nabadda. On the flip side, the Defendants are children of the late Zerubaberi Kateregga Kyamaggwa who upon the demise of the Executors, Samuel Kayondo Ndaula, Crespo Kateregga, Dr. Samson Kisekka and Erifazi Lumansi became Administrators of the Estate the Late Zerubaberi Kateregga. The Plaintiff sought for a declaration that as the daughter in law of the Z. K Kyamagwa and Administratrix of the Will of the Late Samuel Ndaula she is entitled to benefit from the estate of the Late Z K Kyamagwa. The defendants counter-claimed and sought among others, for a declaration that that Plaintiff illegally sold Kibuga Block 4 Plot 502 at Namirembe, an order for vacant possession and eviction of third parties from land, a permanent injunction restraining the Plaintiff, her agents, servants, or any person acting on her behalf from selling, transferring, constructing, accessing or in any other way utilizing the land, Cancellation of Certificates of title and compensation for Loss. Each party prayed for Costs.

The main issues of determination were; whether the Defendants illegally/ Fraudulently obtained Letters of Administration in respect to the Estate of the Late Zerubaberi Kateregga Kyamagwa and whether the Plaintiff illegally obtained Letters of Administration to the estate of the Late Samuel Kayondo Ndaula.

The Court held that the defendants are son and daughters of the late Zerubaberi Kyamagwa. They are his direct descendants and are thus entitled to administer and to benefit from the estate of the late Zerubaberi Kyamagwa. While it is indeed best practice to apply for letters of Administration with Will annexed, once a party has knowledge of the existence of a Will, I find the circumstances of this case peculiar. The Plaintiff had the original copy of the Will, which she chose not to disclose to the plaintiffs. While the existence of the Will was a public fact, the original Will was kept under lock and key by the Plaintiff. The Plaintiff cannot then come before this Court to claim that the defendants ought to have annexed a Will when she had hidden its existence from the defendants. It was mala fide on the part of the Plaintiff not to disclose the whereabouts of the Will to the children of the late Zerubaberi K Kyamaggwa. The Plaintiff was a marital partner of the late Samwiri Kayondo, a son of Zerubaberi Kyamaggwa. Ms Namirimu only happens to be related to the relatives of the Samwiri Kayondo as the mother if their nieces. The Plaintiff cannot, therefore, claim to be part of the direct family of the late Zerubaberi Kateregga Kyamaggwa. Regarding the complaint that the Plaintiff ought to have been invited to the Kyamaggwa family meeting, it would appear to me that the Plaintiff appears to have erroneously believed that she could administer the estate of the late Zerubaberi Kyamaggwa.  Consequently, the defendants were under no obligation to invite the Plaintiff to a family meeting of the family of the late Zerubaberi Kateregga.

On the second issue, the Court held that the Plaintiff was not legally married to the late Samuel Kayondo but cohabited with him, and together they begot three children. The Plaintiff was a partner of the late Kayondo. If she had restricted herself only to administer the estate of her late partner and not intermeddle in the affairs of the estate of the late Zerubaberi Kyamagwa, there would be no illegality committed in the issuance of the Letters of Administration to a girlfriend. This Court was however concerned that the Plaintiff overstepped her powers and used the powers of attorney earlier granted to Samuel Kayondo by his brothers and sister to involve herself in illegal Acts which were tantamount to intermeddling with the estate of the Zerubaberi Kyamaggwa. The amount of harm that had been occasioned by the Plaintiff’s conduct because of holding any Letters of Administration were immense and widespread that the Court found that she cannot be placed in such a position of trust anymore. Court further stated that it is a noble and onerous duty an administrator holds and they are under a duty to act in good faith at all times and to give account to the beneficiaries of the estate and to the Court. This duty is too high for the Plaintiff. She must be relieved of it.