KAMPALA – City tycoon Sudhir Ruparelia is exasperated by city law firm for “hiding behind the court process” and pretending not to “tell when they are conflicted and stay away from a case”.
“This is greed,” the businessman said, adding;
“It is a very simple case of conflict of interest. If a lawyer who has done all these degrees doesn’t know he is conflicted, I don’t know who will,” he told reporters on Wednesday after the sidelines of the hearing of the application in which he has asked court to bar Sebalu & Lule Advocates from representing dfcu Bank, saying “they are conflicted”.
The Commercial Court has deferred the hearing of the application to March 1, after it was communicated to all parties that the trial judge David Wangutusi was out of office.
Mr. Ruparelia, in a suit filed in December last year at the commercial division of the High Court, pointed out that Sebalu & Lule Advocates should not be representing Bank of Uganda and dfcu Bank since it has already represented Crane Management Services that owned Crane Bank which was controversially sold to dfcu Bank in January 2017.
Crane Management Services sued dfcu Bank demanding rental arrears amounting to Shs2.9b and $385,728.54 in respect of tenancies of suit properties that were formally owned by Crane Bank
Mr Rupareria also wants 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.
The city businessman has already blocked another set of conflicted lawyers from arguing cases against him.
In December 2017, the Commercial disqualified Mr Masemmbe and Mr 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 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.
Court documents further indicate that when dfcu Bank took over the assets and liabilities of Crane Bank, it also took over occupation and use of the said rented properties from which the real estate company wants to recover accumulated rent arrears from dfcu bank.
Some of the properties cited include; Crane Bank branches at plot 9 on Market Street, plot 1-13, Jinja Road, plot 47, Republic Road-Mbale, Speke Hotel (1996), Pot 19 Cooper Road (Crane Plaza), plot 20, Kampala Road –Crane Bank ATM.