By Kagenyi Lukka
Justice David Wangutusi of the civil division of the high court once again gave mediation a chance in commercial dispute between Bank of Uganda (BoU) and city property kingpin, Sudhir Ruparelia.
The Judge also set December 10th 2018 as the date when the hearing of the case will commence should the parties during the ongoing mediation process.
This was decided on 11th October 2018 as both parties met Justice 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 and that in which BoU wants to be allowed extension of time to file its defiance 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.
It should be recalled that Bank of Uganda in mid-2017 dragged former crane bank owner, Dr Sudhir Ruparelia and his Meera Investments Company mid last year, for allegedly fleecing his self-owned Crane Bank of Shs397b in fraudulent transactions and transfers.
In response, Dr Ruparelia filed a counter claim suit of $8 million (about Shs 28.8 billion) counter claim suit against Bank of Uganda. He accused Bank of Uganda of breaching against the Confidential Settlement and Release Agreement (CSRA).
Clause 12 of the CSRA stipulates that “Without prejudice to the immediate forging should any legal or administrative proceeding of any kind ensue against SR (Sudhir Ruparelia) as defined in the agreement, the agreement stands voided and BOU shall immediately return to SR the value of the settlement.”
It is against this background that Justice Wangutusi 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. However the process stalled prompting Justice Yorokamu Bamwine (The principal judge) to send the file back to high court.
Bank of Uganda didn’t show good will.
Related to the above, Bank of Uganda was being represented by conflicted lawyers of MMAKS advocates and AF Mpanga advocates who were wisely thrown out by court over conflict of interest. They had been lawyers of Dr Sudhir Ruparelia for about 12 years and were privy to vital information that they would have used to disadvantage Ruparelia.
This wasn’t a gesture of good will on the side Bank of Uganda. The same lawyers appealed against their disqualification-I will not go into the details for fear of subjudice rule.
In conclusion, for the mediation process to yield fruit, Bank of Uganda which is an institution financed by tax payers, should tone down and act justly. This is because if Sudhir wins the case agents him like he successfully challenged conflicted lawyers, the taxpayer will lose yet there is a better remedy.