Commercial Court’s Justice Paul Gadenya has set April 24 as the date to pass the ruling of businessman Sudhir Ruparelia’s ‘conflict of interest’ case against Sebalu and Lule Advocates.
Last year Ruparelia, through his lawyer Joseph Kyazze, filed a suit demanding a permanent injunction be put on Sebalu and Lule Advocates, banning the law firm from appearing before the court as a representative for dfcu bank, and the other court cases that Crane Management Services and dfcu are engaged in.
In his suit, Ruparelia said Sebalu and Lule Advocates were unfit to represent Bank of Uganda (BoU) and dfcu bank 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.
On Wednesday, lawyer Kyazze who represented Crane Management Services said the law firm in question cannot represent dfcu against its former clients because since 2012 they represented Sudhir’s companies.
“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 and 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.
Kyazze said a lot was discussed.
Outside court, one of Meera Investments’ directors Rajiv Ruparelia said it’s a shame to see lawyers telling lies in court.
“It’s so sad that our country has such disgraceful lawyers who deny in courts. They are setting a bad example for our future generation but let’s wait for the judgement,” Rajiv said.