By Andrew Irumba
A third judge at the Commercial Court has finally taken over the hearing of the case in which property mogul Dr.Sudhir Ruparelia sued city law firm Sebalu & Lule Advocates, seeking to stop them from representing dfcu Bank for alleged conflict of interest.
Justice Paul Gadenya has now become the third judge in a space of about a month to handle the case after Justice David Wangutusi, the head of the court, and his deputy, Justice Elizabeth Jane Alividza, declined to hear it.
“The file was allocated to Justice Gadenya. However, he has not allocated it a hearing date because he is away in the field,” Mr Solomon Muyita, the Judiciary senior communications officer, told reporters.
Mr.Muyita explained that initially, the case had been allocated to Justice Alividza but she felt that it would be better if it was handled by Justice Wangutusi, since he was handling similar matters.
He added that when the file was sent to Justice Wangutusi, he also declined to hear it on grounds that it was a different matter that should be handled by another judge and the file was thus sent to Justice Gadenya.
In the case, Mr Ruparelia claims that Sebalu and Lule Advocates are “guilty” of conflict of interest and should not represent dfcu Bank which he sued. Mr Ruparelia, through his Crane Management Services (CMS), sued dfcu Bank over rental arrears owed by the sister company Crane Bank, which was closed by the central bank in 2016 and later sold to dfcu Bank.
Mr Ruparelia claims there exists an ‘advocate-client’ relationship between him and Sebalu & Lule Advocates because the same law firm had previously represented his companies.
He further avers that because of that relationship, confidential information was discussed between the two and will use such information to his disadvantage if the law firm represents dfcu Bank.
Crane Management Services (CMS) sued dfcu Bank seeking rental arrears of Shs2.9b and $385,728 (about Shs1.4b) for the CMS premises formerly occupied by Crane Bank.
He says when dfcu Bank took over Crane Bank, it also inherited the latter’s rent arrears for the CMS properties.