Commercial Court’s Justice Paul Gadenya has set April 29 as ruling date for the conflict of interest case between businessman Sudhir Ruparelia and law firm Sebalu & Lule Advocates.
While communicating the new development to all parties in court on Wednesday, Justice Gadenya said the ruling was ready.
Last year Sudhir, through his lawyers led by Joseph Kyazze, filed a suit demanding a permanent injunction be put on Sebalu &Lule Advocates, banning the law firm from appearing before the court as a representative for Bank of Uganda and dfcu bank, and the other court cases that Crane Management Services and dfcu are engaged in.
In his suit, the property mogul said the law firm was unfit to represent both the Central and dfcu banks because they once represented Crane Management Services – which owned Crane Bank – in several court cases.
The case has been in the Commercial Court since last year, constantly being tossed from one judge to another.
Justice Jane Alividza handled it first before it moved to the Commercial Court head Judge David Wangutusi, who early this year sent it back Alividza. Alividza also declined to hear it until it finally ended in the hands of Justice Gadenya.
Last month, Justice Gadenya set Wednesday, April 3 to hear the case.
“The applicant (Crane Management Services) and Meera Investments are part of the Ruparelia group in which the shareholders are the same. Since the first respondent (Ssebalu and Lule Advocates) acted for one company (Meera Investment), they acted on behalf of all the companies in the group,” Kyazze said.
Kyazze said the first respondent was contracted to design the six templates of tenancy agreements, which agreements are the basement of another case dfcu is battling with Crane Management.
“The first respondent was tasked to draft the tenancy agreements into the simplest forms and was paid for the services rendered. He promised to always be available for consultancy and advice. By representing dfcu in a matter regarding the same tenancy agreements, there exists an advocate-client relationship in which confidential information was discussed between the two and the same information might be used to our disadvantage in the main case,” Kyazze added:
“My Lord Ssebalu and Lule Advocates breached regulations 4, 9 and 10 of the Advocates Rights when they accepted to represent dfcu an element which may lead them to give out confidential information which might be useful in the case between the two entities basing on that matter law firm is conflicted and can therefore not be the same to represent dfcu in the main suit.”
However, Peter Walubiri, who represented Ssebalu&Lule Advocates told court that there are no laws that prohibit an advocate from practising their profession and on the other side.
“The fact that one time he represented that client does not bar him from advocating against the same client. They only edited tenancy agreement which went public. I don’t see any confidential element which the applicant claims to be disclosed,” Walubiri said, before asking Kyazze to provide proof before court there was a confidential element in the tenancy agreement.
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