KAMPALA – Court has deferred the hearing of the case in which city tycoon Sudhir Ruparelia wants the new lawyers hired by Bank of Uganda declared conflicted, and therefore unfit to represent the central bank in the commercial dispute with him.
The case has on Wednesday morning been deferred to March 1, after it was communicated to all parties that the trial judge David Wangutusi was out of office.
The group appeared before the Commercial Court registrar, Mr. Festo Nsenga for the next hearing date.
Although DFCU bank lawyer Mr Christopher Bwanika informed court that they were ready to make their submissions in the case, they were not aware of the same being allocated to another judge.
“Your honor the last time we appeared before Justice Jane Alividza on November 10, 2018, she gave us a timeline for some of the parties to appear on January 1, 2019, for the application, but we were not informed that the trial judge had stepped down for another one, ” Mr Bwanika said.
The lawyers for law firm Sebalu and Lule Advocates, Mr Peter Walubiri also told court that he had an application to make seeking for permission to allow them file an extra affidavit in rejoinder.
Mr. Ruparelia, in his lawsuit filed in December last year pointed out that Sebalu and 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.
“In view of the advocate-client relationship between the applicant (Crane Management Services Ltd) and the 1st respondent (Sebalu & Lule advocates), the latter’s continued participation as defence counsel for the 2nd respondent (Dfcu bank) herein, which is the defendant in High Court Civil Suit (HCCS) No. 109/2018 against the applicant/plaintiff, is prejudicial to the applicant’s head suit,” the petition reads in part.
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.
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.