Key factors that will influence the legal market in Uganda in 2024

1. Court decision on the Anti-Homosexuality Act (AHA). Eyes are on the Constitutional Court. The enactment of the AHA triggered sanctions from key lenders and partners such as the World Bank. A Judgment is anticipated within Q1 of 2024.

2. Political activity to the 2026 election build up. Candidates and political parties will be calibrating their interests. Investors will be taking political risk assessments more frequently. The debate on political “transition” vs political “succession” will gain traction, with a looming cabinet reshuffle and attendant policy shifts e.g resource allocation to major voting camps such as informal sector youths and women groups.

3. Regulatory developments such as the anticipated presidential assent of the Competition Act. This will impact joint ventures, mergers & acquisitions, and market analysis for major transactions in both regulated sectors and the broader economy. The Liquor Control Act might also introduce some new changes in the breweries and alcoholic beverages sector.

4. Budget & tax changes in June/July. More fiscal stress by government is anticipated to yield more aggressive tax policies and changes as obligations such as debt servicing and infrastructure development come to full maturity.

5. Regional economic performance e.g Kenya, DRC, and Tanzania as East African trading partners. I will continue tracking cross-border FDI and deal flow, especially between Uganda and Kenya.

6. ESG, climate change and the global energy transition will continue to influence multilateral project funding and development.

7. Digitization and e-government. Major government services such as court filings, company incorporation, registration of securities/collaterals, AML/CFT compliance, document registration, immigration, tax filings, etc are moving online. Serious digital infrastructure challenges remain part of the process, but the trend is anticipated to continue as lawyers, banks, insurance companies, regulators, etc align to the new virtual environments.

Unlike 2023 which started off sluggishly, 2024 is likely to witness a lot of internal/domestic activity. There are a few groundbreaking litigation and arbitration decisions anticipated from the Commercial Court of Uganda. Major risks such as cyber security, credit and loan repayment risks, insurance and material adverse changes in legislation will continue shaping the agenda. Lenders and key development partners will hopefully reconsider their stance on Uganda once AHA risk has been resolved, and fresh commitments to human rights protection have been guaranteed.

Wishing you all a merry Christmas and prosperous new year.

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