Pleadings are formal written documents entailing the claims of a party or the defence and bind the parties throughout the litigation. Order 6 of the Civil Procedure provides for the amendment of pleadings by either party a suit. Amendment of pleadings is to enable a party to alter their pleadings so as to ensure that litigation between them is conducted not a false hypothesis of facts. It can either be done with leave of court or without leave.

Amendment without leave from the court is supposed to be done within 21 days from the date of issue of summons. If it is being done by the defendant, it is done 14 days from the date of filing the written statement of defence. This is provided for under Order 6 rule 20. Order 6 rule 21 further provides for 28 days after the filing of a counter claim.

Amendment can also be done with leave of court. There are certain conditions that must be fulfilled for leave to be granted. Order 6 Rule 19 provides that the amendment should be just and necessary. Gaso Transport (Bus) Services Ltd V Obere EA 88 1990 SCCA No.4 discusses the principles guiding the amendment of pleadings as follows;

  • The amendments should not cause injustice to the other party. An injury that cannot be compensated by the award of costs is treated as an injustice. In Buffalo Youngster Inc. V SGS Uganda Ltd HCMA No 6 of 2012. The amendment was being sought in bad faith to defeat the defence.

 

  • Multiplicity of proceedings should be avoided as far as possible and all amendments which avoid such multiplicity should be allowed.
  • An application that is made malafide should not be granted
  • No amendment should be allowed where it’s expressly or impliedly prohibited by any law.

Odgers on Pleadings and Practice 23rdEdition 1991 provides that where the action has been brought on a substantial cause of action for which a good defence has been pleaded, the plaintiff will not be allowed to amend his claim by including it.

Amendment should not change cause of action. In Lubowa Gyavira & others V Makerere University HCMA 471 OF 2009. A Court will not exercise its discretion to allow an amendment which substitutes a distinctive cause of action for another to change by means of amendment.

Therefore it is clear that the law is flexible enough to allow parties to rectify errors in their pleadings however it is also strict to avoid the manipulation of the process by the litigants.