KAMPALA, Uganda: Commercial Court head, Justice David Wangutsi issued the counsel today after lawyers for tycoon Sudhir Ruparelia presented reasons why they want out those of the Central Bank from a case where their client is accused of allegedly extracting close to Ushs400B from Crane Bank.
The judge had also listened to presentations by Timothy Kanyerezi Masembe and David Mpanga rejecting Sudhir’s request for them to take leave of the case on ground that they were his lawyers, who are now representing his adversaries in the controversial case.
Masembe practises with the law firm of Masembe, Makubuya, Adriko, Karugaba, Ssekatawa and company advocates abridged as MMAKS while Mpanga practises with A.F. Mpanga and company advocates also known as Bowmans. “If I were you (lawyers of both sides), I would advise your respective clients to settle this matter. One of you (parties) is going to be hurt badly,” Justice David Wangutsi counselled.
Asked by the judge to say something in respect of the above counsel, Sudhir said such mediation would bear no fruits with the involvement of Masembe and Mpanga. Nevertheless, the businessman was open to the idea, save for reservations and misgivings he holds about his former lawyers cum his adversaries.
“As long as those conflicted lawyers are there, it won’t be possible (settling the matter amicably),” Sudhir who appeared with his son Rajiv Ruparelia alongside their business associate Tom Mugenga, told the Judge.
However, the judge reminded Sudhir about previous steps that had been held between him and Bank of Uganda towards settling. “There were earlier attempts to settle this matter. I would think that you take that route,” the judge counselled, but with a room to set aside the same advice.
Kanyerezi had proposed earlier that the mediation must be judge-guided if there were to bear fruits. He suggested that the Principal Judge be contacted to chair such mediations. In the end, Justice Wangutusi adjourned the proceedings up to November 14 when he will rule whether Masembe and Mpanga leaves the case or not.
During the lengthy submissions, Sudhir’s lawyers led by the former Solicitor General Peter Kabatsi presented evidence and facts to show that Masembe and Mpanga acted as lawyers for Sudhir and many of the companies where the businessman holds majority shares, including Crane Bank.
They then presented several authorities including decided cases as well as the Advocates Act and argued that they are not permitted to act against the interest of their former client.
But both Mpanga and Masembe differed saying they acted for Crane Bank and other companies affiliated to it not Sudhir the person. They laboured to fault Sudhir and his lawyers for what they called failing to point out any single instruction he gave them to act for him as a person.
Introducing the Alternative Dispute Resolution (read mediation) system at the Commercial Court a few years ago, Justice James Ogoola equated lawsuits to pregnancy, saying it’s unpredictable. Before a pregnancy is delivered, one can’t be certain whether it will be a still birth, abnormal or a normal baby. None of the parties involved in litigation can tell beforehand that they will emerge victorious at the end of the day, he successfully argued the introduction of mediation.
What started as a done deal case for BOU against Sudhir turned an uphill task for them when, the businessman stood his ground and defended every charges to his benefit, including filing counter accusations. Evidence is awash in every form of medium where, he faults the above lawyers of abusing their profession by turning against their own client. Watch the space…