• Francis Obonyo
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What you need to know about the Illiterate’s Protection Act, Cap 78

Introduction

This Act was revised and consolidated by the Law Reform Commission of Uganda and last updated on 31 December 2000. This is the law for the protection of illiterate persons

Major Highlights of the bill

  1. The Act provides for the verification of the signature of illiterates. It stipulates that no person shall write the name of an illiterate by way of signature to any document unless such illiterate shall have first appended his or her mark to it, and any person who so writes the name of the illiterate shall also write on the document his or her own true and full name and address as a witness. This shall imply as a statement that he or she wrote the name of the illiterate by way of signature after the illiterate had appended his or her mark, and that he or she was instructed so to write by the illiterate and that prior to the illiterate appending his or her mark, the document was read over and explained to the illiterate.
  2. The Act provides for the verification of documents written for illiterates; any person who shall write any document for or at the request, on behalf or in the name of any illiterate shall also write on the document his or her own true and full name as the writer of the document and his or her true and full address. This implies that he or she was instructed to write the document by the person for whom it purports to have been written and that it fully and correctly represents his or her instructions and was read over and explained to him or her.
  3. The Act creates offence and penalty where, if the writer of or witness to the signature on any document fails to write on it his or her true and full name and address or if he or she has done so and the statement which under this Act is implied by the writing is untrue in any particular, then and in every such case the person commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding three hundred shillings, or in default of payment to imprisonment for a period not exceeding three months. Notably is the fact that this is without prejudice to any criminal or civil liability which he or she may have incurred in the circumstances by reason of fraud, forgery, misrepresentation or otherwise.

Conclusion

In the case of Stanbic Bank Uganda Ltd V Ssenyonjo Moses Civil Appeal No. 147 of 2015, Court further discusses the instances where a contract can be set aside for breach of the Illiterates Protection Act, Cap 78.