Under the Ugandan law, a “Pauper” is someone who cannot afford to pay the required Court fees. Such a person can institute what is referred to as a “Pauper suit”. The law under Order 33 provides for the grounds to be used to determine whether a suit qualifies to be a pauper suit or not.

  1. That the prayer sought herein is not of a simple nature, for it calls for the exercise of the courts discretion which discretion is premised to be based on some reasonable basis in fact and in law to warrant the making of the order.
  2. That not any person is to apply to proceed in a suit as a pauper, only the poor are allowed. However, given the equality guaranteed by the constitution, a balance must be struck between the interests of the poor indigent and the interest of those who seek a just and fair adjudication of their disputes.
  3. That the burden lies squarely on the applicant to candidly and in extreme openness reveal all about his status to the court. Failure to disclose in its strictest sense would lead to the dismissal of the application.
  4. And finally the burden of proof that one is entitled to sue as a pauper is extremely high.

This therefore means that apart from merely stating that one has no job or satiable source of income, the applicant has to make an effort to support his statement by making a full disclosure of his financial position. He may well have no job or business, but that does not in itself mean that he is a pauper going by the above definition. He could have assets such as real estate or vehicles.

Order 33 rule 5(1) (b) and (d) CPR provides that a pauper application will be rejected where the applicant is not a pauper or where the applicant’s allegations do not show a cause of action.

As is the rule of evidence under Section 101 of the Evidence Act, ‘he who alleges must prove’ accordingly the onus is on the applicant to prove their inability to pay the fees prescribed for the fling of the action. Such evidence should be strong.  It’s clear therefore that a person is a pauper when he or she is not possessed of sufficient means to enable him to pay the fee prescribed by law for their suit, defense or counterclaim in such suit. Therefore, an application for leave to sue as a pauper must disclose all assets and failure to do so will entail rejection.

In summary, mere allegations that someone is a pauper is not sufficient, it must be demonstrated to court squarely and candidly in extreme openness.