The commercial division of High court has rejected a request by Heritage Oil and Gas to handle its appeal challenging the ruling of Tax Appeals Tribunal ruling on its US $ 435 million tax assessment in an open court. In its application Heritage Oil and Gas requested court to have the proceedings in an open court on grounds that documents pertaining the ruling of the Tax Appeals Tribunal were already in the public domain.
However, Justice David Wangutusi rejected the request. In his ruling on Thursday last week, Justice Wangutusi noted that previously, the cases in the Tax Appeals Tribunal had been held in camera at the request of Heritage Oil. He argued that since the parties had earlier agreed to a hearing in camera, the position will remain the same. “In a matter such as this one, confidentiality is meant to safeguard the commercially sensitive information in the extractives industries,” Wangutusi says in his ruling.
Heritage Oil is appealing a November 2011 decision by the Tax Appeals Tribunal, which had ruled in favor of Uganda Revenue Authority to slap US$435m capital gains tax change on the oil company. Heritage had completed the sale of its Ugandan assets to Tullow Oil Uganda at US$1.45bn, and argued that the transaction was not taxable in Uganda. In appealing the decision, they requested the High Court make the proceedings open to the public in court but Uganda Revenue Authority opposed the proposal.