KAMPALA – The High Court has on Monday, April 29, declared city law firm Sebalu & Lule Advocates conflicted, and therefore unfit to represent dfcu Bank in a case against property mogul Sudhir Ruparelia and his Crane Bank Ltd.
This after court agreed that the lawyers have relevant information concerning Crane Management Services (CMS) having participated in the review of its tenancy agreements.
In his ruling, delivered by the Commercial Court Registrar Festo Nsenga, Justice Paul Gadenya Wolimbwa said:
“The Applicant has made out a case that the first respondent has relevant information of the applicant. The information is relevant and I accordingly grant an injunction restraining the first respondent from handling any case involving the applicant.”
The judge ordered the respondents [Lawyers of Sebalu & Lule Advocates] to “pay costs of this application” to Mr. Sudhir.
Mr. Ruparelia through his real estate company; 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 Ltd.
In the suit, Crane Management Services contended that when dfcu Bank took over management of Crane Bank Ltd, it illegally took possession of the rental facilities from which the real estate company seeks to recover its arrears.
However, in defence, dfcu Bank contracted the Law firm of Sebalu & Lule Advocates which Mr. Ruparelia disputed saying he had initially contracted the same law firm in 2006 to draw and review tenancy agreements in respect of the said rental premises thus there is conflict between the lawyer and his client.
Mr. Ruparelia also asked 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 city lawyers Mr Kanyererezi Masembe and Mr. David 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 Mr. 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 Advocates Act regulations, provide 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.