By Ivan Mwine
The High Court has Tuesday May 24, 2022, literally driven the last nail in city tycoon Patrick Bitature’s coffin, which will see his business empire collapse.
We recently revealed how Bitature is set to lose property worth billions of shillings after he reportedly failed to service loans worth USD10M with Vantage Mezzanine Fund II Partnership, a group of South African moneylenders.
However, Bitature, through his lawyers of Muwema & Co. Advocates, contested the said load, arguing that Vantage Mezzanine Fund doesn’t exist and is thus a ghost company, which has no legal capacity to sue Bitature or his company, Simba Telecom Ltd.
In a bid to secure his properties from being auctioned by the moneylenders, Bitature sued Vantage Mezzanine through his lawyers of Muwema & Co. Advocates vide H.C Miscellaneous Application No.0414 of 2022, Arising from Miscellaneous Application No. 0201 of 2020.
The Applicants in the said Application which was before Justice Stephen Mubiru, include;
- Simba Properties Investments Co. Ltd
- Simba Telecom Limited
- Linda Properties Limited
- Elgon Terrace Hotel Limited
- Patrick Bitature
- Carol Bitature
The Respondents in the Application include;
- Vantage Mezzanine II Partnership
- Warren Van Der Merwe
- Derek Alexander
- Siyanda Khumalo
- Robert Kirunda
- Diana Ksabiiti
- Moses Muziiki
In his ruling however dated May 24, 2022, Justice Mubiru faults Muwema & Co. Advocates for misleading their client (Bitature) by making him believe that Vantage Mezzanine II Partnership is a non-existing entity, yet they were aware of the fact that; “…. The Mezzanine Term Facility Agreement contained a valid, binding and enforceable arbitration agreement /clause between the parties, by virtue of which the dispute should be referred to and resolved through arbitration.”
Justice Mubiru, in his ruling, express severe disappointment at the acts of Muwema & Co. Advocates misleading their clients, a situation he describes as so rare and exceptional that it warrants the lawyers to pay costs of the case instead of their clients.
“I find that in filing this application, the advocates’ default rises to a ‘rare and exceptional level’ . Basic professional competence demands that an advocate seeking interlocutory relief should first establish that there is a substantive matter pending before the court, which they did not. Basic professional conduct further demands that an advocate seeking intervention of this court in proceedings pending before a magistrate’s court should do so by invoking its prerogative or supervisory powers, and not otherwise,” Justice Mubiru states partly in his ruling.
He adds that; “In the same proceeding, they join as respondents advocates whose only role was to facilitate their client’s cause, thereby seeking to restrain professional colleagues from carrying out their duties as officers of the court. It is an advocate’s professional responsibility to ensure that all suits and applications filed possess a proper legal basis, yet this application is entirely misconceived and devoid of legal foundation.”
The Judge concludes in his ruling thus; “This application catastrophically lacks the legal basis. The legal costs and time wasted in this application could have been entirely avoided if the applicant’s advocates had discharged their duties to the expected minimum standards of professional competence. It qualifies as a “rare and exceptional” case where it would not be fair for the applicants to bear the costs. The costs must be met by the applicant’s advocates in person. Consequently, the application is hereby dismissed. The costs of this application will be met personally by counsel on record for the applicants.”
It is not yet clear whether Bitature’s lawyers will appeal the ruling but if stands, then he is likely to lose the following properties, which were advertised last week in local newspaper Daily Monitor, for auctioning; Protea Skyz Hotel Naguru, Elizabeth Royal Apartments in Kololo and Moyo Close Apartments.
The properties were on Wednesday May 18, 2022 advertised by Quickway Auctioneers and Court Bailiffs for auctioning, unless Bitature clears the money he owes within 30 days.