Third judge takes on Sudhir-dfcu case

Earlier this month, the head of Commercial Court, Justice Justice David Wangutusi, sent back the case to Justice Jane Alividza ‘to finish what she had started.’

COURT | Justice Paul Gadenya has become the third judge to be handed the a case of conflict of interest filed by property mogul Sudhir Ruparelia against law firm Sebalu and Lule Advocates.

Earlier this month, the head of Commercial Court, Justice Justice David Wangutusi, sent back the case to Justice Jane Alividza ‘to finish what she had started.’

However Alividza also declined to hear the case.

Sendo Cleaners

“The file has been allocated to Justice Gadenya. However, he has not allocated it a hearing date because he is away in the field,” Solomon Muyita, the Judiciary senior communications officer, told a local daily on Wednesday.

“Initially, the case was allocated to Justice Alividza but she felt that it would be better if it was handled by Justice Wangutusi, since he was handling similar matters.”

Sudhir, in his law suit filed in December last year, said Sebalu and Lule Advocates should not be representing Bank of Uganda and dfcu Bank since it has already represented Crane Management Services.

The management company was run by Crane Bank, which was controversially sold to dfcu Bank in January 2017, leading to the main suit.

Crane Management Services sued dfcu Bank demanding rental arrears amounting to Shs2.9 billion for tenancies of suit properties that were formally owned by Crane Bank.

“In view of the advocate-client relationship between Crane Management Services Ltd) and Sebalu and Lule advocates, the latter’s continued participation as defence counsel for dfcu Bank is prejudicial to the applicant’s head suit,” the petition reads in part.

Sudhir also wants the court to issue a permanent injunction, restraining Sebalu and 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 Court made a precedent ruling, disqualifying city lawyers Kanyererezi Masembe and David Mpanga from a lucrative Shs397 billion case against Bank of Uganda.

The court had agreed with Sudhir that the two lawyers were conflicted having previously represented firms under Ruparelia Group.

In his ruling delivered on December 21, 2017, Justice Wangutusi stated that David Mpanga of AF 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 will 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.

The dates for the new hearing are yet to be set.

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