By Andrew Irumba
The Commercial Court in Kampala on Thursday set December 10 2018 as the date it will commence hearing the Shs397 billion commercial dispute between Bank of Uganda (BoU) and city property mogul Sudhir Ruparelia, should the on-going mediation efforts fail.
The two sides yesterday Thursday met the head of the Commercial Court, Mr David Wangutusi, for further directions about the accumulated cases in the court system for more than a year.
The court also set November 21 as the date it will hear three pending applications. They include BoU to amend its pleadings in which it (BoU) wants to be allowed extension of time to file its defence to counter the law suit filed against it by Mr Ruparelia.
The last application to be heard on that day is that in which Mr Ruparelia wants BoU pleadings dismissed.
The presiding judge gave both sides up to December 10 to continue pursuing mediation process.
Justice Wangutusi had last year advised both parties to embrace the mediation process and have their differences settled out-of-court, warning that should the matter go for a full hearing, the losing party will pay heavily.
In July this year, the mediator appointed by court (Principal Judge Yorokamu Bamwine), sent back the BoU/Sudhir file to the head of the Commercial Court, stating that ever since he took over the mediation process in November last year, there has not been any input by either party to the case. Justice Bamwine had, in his accompanying letter to Justice Wangutusi, explained that the mediation process had been “on and off” due to various reasons.
“I am inclined to forward the file to you (Justice Wangutusi) without the input of the parties but with information to them through counsel to be kept there until such a time when they will be ready to proceed and they move you to forward it this way again with a fresh mandate under the rules or otherwise. Please accept the mediation file back that way,” Justice Bamwine’s July 17 letter, read in part.
The central bank sued Mr Ruparelia and his Meera Investments Company mid last year, for allegedly fleecing his self-owned Crane Bank of Shs397b in fraudulent transactions and transfers.
The commercial bank was closed by the Central Bank and sold to DFCU Bank, a transaction said to have been marred with a lot of irregularities, according to Auditor General’s report released recently.
Meanwhile, Mr Ruparelia also denied allegations of having failed his own bank and instead counter sued the Central Bank, seeking compensation of $8m (about Shs28b) in damages for breach of contract!
Rules of mediation require that out-of-court talks should not exceed two months and should the parties fail to agree in that period, the case file be returned for a full hearing before a judge.