Emerging triumphant in any court case is a formidable task, and it depends on the quality of the legal team one employs. Going for the finest and smartest legal cohorts is a seemingly brilliant strategy in all legal tussles for one to emerge winner.
Dr. Sudhir Ruparelia, Uganda’s richest businessman, perhaps had this bold idea in mind. He had to go for one of the best legal teams in the country.
Legal experts from Kampala Associated Advocates (KAA), were handpicked by Dr. Ruparelia, in order to defend himself against a UGX397 billion (USD106 million) suit from Bank of Uganda, which is touted as one of Uganda’s most strict financial regulators.
Faced with such a complex legal banking tussle, in both financial value and industry significance, KAA had to front one of their best legal brains- with a decades long period of legal practice.
Commanding the 5-man legal offensive was an experienced lawyer by the names of Peter C.R Kabatsi. He is the former Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), but most importantly, the former Solicitor General, who participated in designing the Financial Institutions Act 2004, the main piece of legislation that formed the backbone of the multi-million dollar dispute.
Here, we take a quick primer on what is arguably Uganda’s most ‘feriocious’ and ‘decisive’ legal team that helped Dr sudhir trounce Bank of Uganda in the Crane Bank legal battle.
Peter C.R. Kabatsi – Senior Partner, KAA
Specialist Areas of Practice: Commercial Litigation, Arbitration, Employment Law and Public International Law – Years of Experience: 46 years
“If there is any law in Uganda, made between 1990 and 2002, all chances are that it went through Peter Kabatsi’s keen eyes for fine-tooth combing,” says Racheal Nassuna, a seasoned writer.
As Solicitor General between 1990-2002, it was his responsibility to vet and approve all draft bills prepared by the Parliamentary Counsel. During his twelve years in office, every law that was passed was therefore drafted under his supervision. Some of the laws that went through his hands include the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda, the Companies Act, the Contract Act, the Copyright Act, the Copyright Act, the Electronic Media Act, and even the Financial Institutions Act 2004 that BoU relies on to supervise financial institutions. He was also responsible for the revision and amendment of all of Uganda’s laws from 1964 to 2000.
As Solicitor General, he was also the legal advisor and representative of the government in all matters at a national and international level; he worked as the principal legal officer for the Government and all its bodies and organisations. He also handled all civil matters brought to the government and gave legal opinions on all Government contracts. He too, led many Ugandan delegations in bilateral and multilateral negotiations including country negotiations with IMF, the World Bank as well as other International Organisations and Arbitrations.
Peter is not just good at making laws, he too is good at prosecution and litigation- between 1986 and 1990, he also served as the Director of Public Prosecutions charged with, among others, the institution and prosecution of criminal proceedings on behalf of the state- so he knows how to weave, defend and win cases too!
Dr. Sudhir Ruparelia and Meera Investments therefore couldn’t have chosen a better lawyer to lead their legal defense against a ferocious and vicious Bank of Uganda.
Peter is a Senior Partner at Kampala Associated Advocates where he jointly heads the litigation department. The litigation department, in Kabatsi’s words, “has and continues to successfully represent several local and international clients in a variety of sectors, including oil and gas, telecommunications as well as public bodies, and government agencies.”
He has practiced law internationally as well, holding several leadership positions on global bodies such as the United Nations International Law Commission (ILC)- the body of experts that is mandated with codifying and developing international law, where he served in various capacities, including President, Vice President and Rapporteur.
He has also provided legal counsel to various committees and commissions of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), United Nations African Institute for Crime Prevention and Treatment of Offenders (UNAFRI), and the Bamako Convention on the Trans Boundary Movement of Toxic Wastes and Hazardous Substances. In 1991, he was a member of the Committee of Experts for the review of the Montreal Protocol on the ozone layer, Rio de Janeiro Brazil.
Peter is also on the list of Counsel eligible to practice before the International Criminal Court and an attorney and notary in the Kingdom of Lesotho where he also served as Principal Crown Counsel. He is also qualified to practice in the courts of Rwanda.
He is also an ad hoc Judge of the Permanent Court of Arbitration which is an intergovernmental organization providing a variety of dispute resolution services to the international community.
The court provides administrative support for international arbitrations involving various combinations of states, state entities, international organizations, and private parties. He has on previous occasions been appointed by the President of Uganda to serve on several tribunals and investigative committees in Uganda.
He is a member of the Uganda Law Society as well as the East African Law Society. He holds an LLB from Makerere University, a Post Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice from the Law Development Centre.
Managing Partner, KAA
Specialist Areas of Practice: Commercial Litigation, Arbitration, Intellectual Property Law and Employment Law – Years of Experience: 26 years
Joseph is currently, the Managing Partner at Kampala Associated Advocates, KAA, one of the leading law firms in Uganda, where he also jointly heads the litigation department.
He joined Kampala Associated Advocates in July 2007 having worked as the Director of Civil Litigation at the Attorney General’s Chambers of the Uganda Government, for 4 years.
Joseph possesses vast experience in civil and commercial litigation, mediation, and international commercial arbitration. He joined the Attorney General’s Chambers in 1994 as a State Attorney and by 2002, had risen to become a Principal State Attorney and after just 2 years, he was promoted to the Director, Civil Litigation function in 2003.
He is recognized as one of the best litigation, arbitration and disputes lawyers in Uganda, and is acclaimed in the legal industry for his excellent litigation skills. His distinguished practice in civil and commercial litigation includes both domestic and international arbitration at the London Court of International Arbitration and the ICC Arbitration Chamber.
He has successfully handled some of the highest-profile constitutional litigation and high-value commercial disputes in Uganda. This, for example, represented the Electoral Commission and the President of Uganda, in the 2016 Supreme Court petitions challenging presidential elections, as lead Counsel.
He has also represented MTN, the leading telecom operator in Uganda, since 2007 and has in due course handled multi-million dollar disputes for the company. He recently won a Supreme Court extraterritorial interconnection dispute worth millions of dollars.
He has also represented the Ugandan Communications Commission (UCC), since 2010, and has been its lead lawyer handling its legal work and disputes. In that capacity, Joseph recently successfully represented UCC in a USD 250 million dispute involving broadcasting and licensing issues.
He also successfully represented a Ugandan entity in a € 40 million international commercial arbitration matter in Paris and London, and also won a USD 16.4 million award in a litigation dispute in Uganda, on behalf of a mining foreign investor.
Amongst many other ongoing commercial disputes, he is currently working with Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP, a London law firm on a multi-million dollar dispute in Uganda, involving a UK entity. He also recently successfully represented a financial services Group in a USD 15 million dispute involving money remittance operations.
He holds a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) from Makerere University and a Post Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice from, Law Development Centre. He also holds several certificates in Mediation and Arbitration; Contract Compliance, Monitoring, and Dispute Resolution; Commercial Transactions and Public Enterprise Restructuring and Divestiture.
Specialist Areas of Practice: Commercial Litigation, Taxation and Employment Law – Years of Experience: 12 years
Bruce joined KAA in 2011 as a Senior Associate and by 2016 he had worked his way to being a Partner. Before KAA, he worked for PriceWaterhouseCoopers USA (“PWC”), in the international tax group. While at PWC, he was mainly involved in advising clients on tax structuring, tax advisory, and tax compliance transactions.
Before joining PWC, Bruce, worked for JPMorgan the American multinational investment bank and financial services holding. While at JPMorgan, he offered corporate advisory and secretarial services to the bank. He advised on the bank’s mutual and hedge funds concerning international transactions.
Since joining KAA, Bruce has been involved in litigation with a preference for tax matters. Amongst the tax matters handled, Bruce successfully represented Standard Chartered Bank Uganda Limited in a UGX 13 billion income tax dispute. He also successfully represented the leading mobile telecommunications company, MTN Uganda in a UGX 320 billion corporation tax, Value Added Tax, and excise duty dispute against the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA).
He was also involved in representing Tullow Uganda Ltd in its USD490 million capital gains tax arising from the disposal of its interests in oil blocks. He has also worked with Total E&P and Total Uganda, including on a UGX 2 billion tax dispute. He was also part of the team that handled Orange Uganda Limited’s UGX 100 billion tax dispute against URA.
In the energy sector, some of the major matters that Bruce has been involved with, include, advising Eskom Uganda Ltd, a power generation company on a pending dispute with Uganda Revenue Authority in respect to eligibility to claim capital allowances on assets that came into use after the concession date with the Government of Uganda.
He also represented Umeme Ltd, Uganda’s largest power distribution company in a USD 33.8 million dispute against URA before the Commercial Court regarding the taxability of assets that were passed over from government to the company under a concession agreement. He also secured a win at the Tax Appeals Tribunal for Uganda Electricity Transmission Company Limited, (UETCL) in a UGX. 14 billion VAT dispute on whether the UETCL was time-barred in its claim for an input tax credit.
Bruce offers tax advisory services to a numbe of blue-chip companies that include: CNOOC, Total Uganda Ltd, Tullow Oil, Umeme Ltd, Bujagali Energy Limited, Standard Chartered Bank (U) Limited and Multichoice (U) Ltd, among others. Bruce has also represented Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) in several infrastructure project disputes.
He is a member of the Uganda Law Society and East African Law Society.
He holds an LLB from Makerere Univesity, a Post Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice from Uganda’s Law Development Centre, and an LLM in International Tax from Georgetown University in the US.
Elison Karuhanga, Partner, KAA
Specialist Areas of Practice: Commercial Litigation, Employment Law, Energy, Mining, Environmental and Natural Resources – Years of Experience: 16 years
Elison joined the KAA team as a Partner in 2017. Before that, he was a Founding Partner at Karuhanga, Kasajja & Co. Advocates- a law firm he founded in 2013. He has also been a State Attorney, in the Directorate of Civil Litigation at the Attorney General’s Chambers for 5 years from 2008.
At KAA, Elison works in the litigation and energy law department. He is a trained oil and gas lawyer, having obtained an LLM (Oil and Gas Law) from the UK’s University of Aberdeen over and above his LLB from the University of Kent, also in the UK.
Elison is a member of GOXI, the World Bank Institutes’ Governance for Extractive Industries Program which brings together practitioners from government, private sector, NGOs, and ThinkTanks to strengthen governance in the extractive industries sector. He is also a member of the Uganda Chamber of Mines and Petroleum and a member of the Association of International Petroleum Negotiators (AIPN).
Having worked as a Legal Officer at dfcu Bank, one of Uganda’s top 5 banks, Elison possesses a good understanding of the banking terrain and as such has been part of the team that appeared before the Parliamentary Legal Committee on behalf of the Uganda Bankers Association to address issues to do with mortgage regulation.
He also wields quite some experience in insolvency, securitization, and document registration, including but not limited to the registration of trademarks, patents, and copyrights.
Having worked at the Ministry of Justice for over five years as a state attorney, Elison, also brings to the table a handson appreciation of public and regulatory law.
Perhaps one of his largest and most significant cases is being one of the lead players on the team that successfully defended the Electoral Commission and the President of Uganda before the Supreme Court of Uganda soon after the 2016 elections.
He also recently advised an upstream oil company on the establishment of its operations in Uganda, on the content of its Production Share Agreement and helped the company obtain an exploration license in Uganda’s first-ever competitive licensing round.
As a State Attorney, he was also involved in the Constitutional case regarding the 2011 terrorism bombings in Uganda where he represented the government in Ugandan courts and the East African Court of Justice. He has also represented the government in several commercial arbitrations and various suits before the Commercial Court of Uganda.
Jet John Tumwebaze, Partner, KAA
Specialist Areas of Practice: Employment Law, Civil and Commercial Litigation, Arbitration and Public International Law – Years of Experience: 13 years
Tumwebaze, entered KAA in 2011 as an intern, straight from Makerere University, but with demonstrated capacity, he has cut through the ranks to become a partner in the law firm.
The Makerere University LLB graduate has been part of and often been the lead counsel on some of Uganda’s high profile cases, such as representing the former Inspector General of Police, General Kale Kayihura against failure to protect war materials and aiding and abetting kidnapping charges brought against him by the state. For the 75 days, Gen Kayihura was incarcerated in the Makindye Military prison, Jet was the face of Kayihura’s defence and is remembered for vehemently taking on state security agencies for what he said was the forging of evidence against his client.
He is also one of the first lawyers, to set foot in the oil-rich Albertine Graben to represent Tullow Oil during the acquisition of land and compensation of project affected persons in the early days of oil exploration. It is believed that his expert handling of this task is what earned him the trust of his seniors as well as accelerated rise to Partner status.
Jet has represented other major companies in various matters, that include Umeme, Uganda’s largest electricity distributor, as well as the Uganda National Chamber of Commerce and Industry, MTN Uganda, Nile Breweries Limited and the Uganda Communications Commission.
Jet also recently won a UGX3.5 billion Hon. Margaret Zziwa vs. The Secretary General Of The East African Community case that challenged Zziwa’s illegal removal from her office as the East African Parliament Speaker.- a case that most legal pundits had given little chances of success. Jet along with another colleague, successfully represented the Acholi war claimants, against the government of Uganda and secured billions of shillings in compensation for the properties the community had lost during the LRA war.
Owing to his expertise in employment law, at KAA, He is also a partner in charge of Human Resource and Administration. He has also helped several companies, to develop their HR Manuals and Policies in line with the Ugandan law.
He is a member of the Uganda Law Society as well as the East African Law Society.
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