KAMPALA: The High Court’s Commercial Division has put a permanent injunction on law firm Lule & Sebalu Advocates, meaning the firm can cannot now participate in cases involving the Ruparelia Group since its lawyers were at one time employed by the Ruparelia Group.
The High Court made the ruling on Monday in the case in which city tycoon Sudhir Ruparelia was seeking the law firm hired by the dfcu Bank and Bank of Uganda declared conflicted, and therefore unfit to represent the parties in a longstanding commercial dispute with Uganda’s richest man.
The ruling was to be delivered by Justice Paul Gadenya Wolimbwa but was instead delivered by Commercial Court Registrar Festo Nsenga. The judge agreed with Sudhir that the law firm has relevant about him and his company-Ruparelia Group.
The firm is to pay the costs of the application to Sudhir and his Ruparelia Group.
Sudhir through his real estate company; Crane Management Services some time back sued dfcu Bank demanding rental arrears amounting to Shs2.9billion and US$385,728.54 in respect of tenancies of suit properties that were formally owned by Crane Bank Ltd.
In the suit, Crane Management Services argued that when dfcu Bank took over management of Crane Bank Ltd, it illegally took possession of the rental facilities from which the real estate company seeks to recover its arrears.
However, in defence, dfcu Bank contracted the Law firm of Sebalu & Lule Advocates but Mr. Sudhir said he contracted the same law firm in 2006 to draw and review tenancy agreements in respect of the said rental premises thus there is conflict between the lawyer and his client.
Mr. Rupareria also wanted the court to issue a permanent injunction, restraining Sebalu & Lule Advocates from appearing as defence counsel for dfcu Bank in the other court case that the two principals are battling out.
In December 2017, the Commercial disqualified city lawyers Mr Kanyererezi Masembe and Mr David Mpanga from the sh397b Sudhir Ruparelia’s case against Bank of Uganda (BoU), citing conflict of interest.
In his ruling delivered on December 21, 2017, the head of the commercial court division, Justice Wangutusi stated that Mr. David Mpanga of A.F. Mpanga Advocates and Timothy Masembe of MMAKS Advocates acted in violation of the Advocates (Professional Conduct) regulations.
Section 4 of the regulation provides that an advocate shall not accept instructions from any person in respect of a contentious or non-contentious matter if the matter involves a former client and the advocate as a result of acting for the former client is aware of any facts which may be prejudicial to the client in that matter.