Prominent Kampala lawyers, Fred Muwema and Kagoro Friday of Muwema & Co. Advocates, always represent clients but now they find themselves embroiled in a legal dispute centered around alleged rental arrears totaling US$148,000 (about Shs553m). Their landlord Downtown Investments Limited has filed a lawsuit, Civil Suit No. 0621 of 2023, seeking the recovery of these rental arrears.
According to court documents, Downtown Investments Limited contends that Muwema & Co. Advocates, along with partners Fred Muwema and Kagoro Friday Roberts, have accumulated this substantial debt as unpaid rent, spanning from December 15, 2021, up to the present day. The case now awaits a hearing and determination before Justice Harriet Magala in the Commercial Court.
On July 12, 2023, Downtown Investments Limited officially terminated the tenancy agreement with Muwema & Co. Advocates, providing the law firm with a 30-day notice to vacate the premises. However, as of August 12, 2023, the law firm had yet to peacefully vacate the property, resulting in a standoff.
According to court filings, Downtown Investments Limited alleges that Muwema & Co. Advocates had consistently defaulted on timely rent payments, and by May 30, 2023, the accrued rent had swelled to a staggering US$182,400. In response to a demand notice for this amount, Fred Muwema’s legal team initiated a partial payment, reducing the outstanding rental arrears to US$148,300 at the time of filing the court case.
The tenancy agreement, included as evidence in the court documents, indicates that the agreed monthly rent in 2014 was US$5,500, subject to an 18% VAT and a 10% annual increment after the initial 24 months. It is the cumulative effect of these terms that has allegedly resulted in the current disputed amount.
Adding to the complexity of the situation, Downtown Investments Limited has formally filed a complaint of criminal trespass against Fred Muwema and Kagoro Friday Roberts. They have also sought police intervention to facilitate the eviction of the law firm from the premises.