Lawyers representing wealthy businessman Sudhir Ruparelia have raised a red flag over the proposed mediation between the former Crane Bank proprietor and Bank of Uganda.
The Commercial Court on Tuesday appointed top Kampala lawyer Harriet Magala of Kituuma-Magala & Co. Advocates to mediate the dispute between Sudhir and the Central Bank.
BoU recently sued Sudhir, accusing him of taking over Shs 400bn from Crane Bank.
Sudhir responded by filing a defence, challenging the fraud allegations slapped against him.
It later emerged that a judicial committee headed by Chief Justice Bart Katureebe had appointed Magala to mediate the multi-million dollar case.
But Sudhir’s legal associates said mediation would “only commence after pleadings have closed.”
A source told ChimpReports on Wednesday morning: “Crane Bank and Bank of Uganda need to file their responses to the counter claim before any mediation can commence,” adding, “That is why I don’t think anything will happen on Thursday.”
The mediation process is expected to commence this Wednesday.
Sudhir’s legal aides said “court can only start mediation when pleadings are in and each side understands the other’s case.”
They further informed us that it was “important to close pleadings before mediation starts because parties cannot change their case based on mediation discussions.”
On the other hand, Court officials say mediation helps avoid case backlog and resolve issues amicably.
Mediation is the attempt to settle a legal dispute through active participation of a third party (mediator) who works to find points of agreement and make those in conflict agree on a fair result.
Mediation differs from arbitration in which the third party (arbitrator) acts much like a judge but in an out-of-court less formal setting but does not actively participate in the discussion.
This process has become very common in trying to resolve domestic relations disputes (divorce, child custody, visitation), and is often ordered by the judge in such cases.
Mediation also has become more frequent in contract and civil damage cases.
There are professional mediators, or lawyers who do some mediation for substantial fees, but the financial cost is less than fighting the matter out in court and may achieve early settlement and an end to anxiety.
However, mediation does not always result in a settlement.
Sources who preferred anonymity so as to speak freely said Sudhir’s legal team would “insist that mediation commences after pleadings closed”.