Tycoon Sudhir Ruparelia has scored another win in the Commercial Court this morning.
Court declared city law firm Sebalu & Lule Advocates conflicted and therefore unfit to represent their clients DFCU Bank in a case against the property magnate.
“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,” part of Justice Paul Gadenya Wolimbwa’s judgement delivered by the Commercial Court Registrar Festo Nsenga, read.
Sudhir, 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.
DFCU Bank then hired Sebalu & Lule Advocates to represent them in the case, but Sudhir filed a conflict of interest case because the firm had previously represented him.
Sudhir’s lawyer Joseph Kyazze adduced evidence that Sebalu & Lule had been contracted by his client 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.
Court also issued a permanent injunction, restraining Sebalu & Lule Advocates from appearing as defence counsel against Ruparelia Group in other cases.
Sebalu & Lule’s actions contravened Section 4 of Advocates Act regulations, which provides 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.”
The judge also ordered the respondents to “pay costs of this application”.
In December, Sudhir won another conflict of interest case barring AF Mpanga Advocates and MAKKS Advocates from representing Bank of Uganda in a case related to Crane Bank’s takeover as they had previously served as his lawyers.