By Nasser Kasozi Akandwanaho
The Crane Management Services Ltd has filed a bill of more than UGX. 215 million as compensation for legal costs during the defense of the case against Kacita Uganda Ltd.
The bill followed dismissal for want of prosecution of the suit in which Kampala City Traders Association (Kacita) was seeking for orders to stop Crane Management Services Ltd and 16 other landlords from collecting three months’ rent arrears that accrued when arcades closed during the 2020 lockdown.
In April, the High Court dismissed the case citing failure of the traders’ association (Kacita) to prosecute their case.
The court also ordered Kacita to pay legal costs incurred by Crane Management Services and the other 16 accused parties.
Other accused parties include Ntake Bakery Limited, Apple Properties Limited, Godfrey Kyeswa, Aponye House Limited, James Mugabi, Drake Lubega, Ham Enterprises Limited, Mansur Matovu alias Yanga, Christine Nabukeera, Daudi Mutebi, Yebaza Joseph, Ahmed Zziwa, Tom Kitandwe, Godfrey Kirumira Kalule, Twese Enterprises Limited and Mutaasa Kafeero.
KACITA Uganda Limited claiming to represent 38 of its members, had sued the seventeen landlords for orders to stop the landlords from paying rent arrears for three months of March, April and May of 2020 when the business community was under lockdown.
On May 7, 2020, KACITA also petitioned the national task force for the fight against Coronavirus in the Office of the Prime Minister seeking intervention to compel the landlords to waive the rent arrears since the traders did not work due to the lockdown.
They had asked the government to declare that the three months was a loss to the entire economy and therefore no rent obligation will be accrued to tenants for both commercial premises and rentable apartments or that when landlords file their annual returns for the year 2020/21, their rental income tax obligations should be waived against the three which they never earned.
But in their defence, Crane Management Services Limited argued that the case did not disclose any cause of action against it and asked that the case be dismissed.
The company argued that Kacita had brought the case in bad faith on behalf of an alleged group of purported tenants who none the less comprise less than 1 percent of all the tenants they collectively have as downtown landlords without the express authority of the vast majority of genuine tenants that enjoy cordial relationships with their landlords.
Crane Management Services Limited under the proprietorship of Dr. Sudhir Ruparelia is a member of KACITA but it did not authorize, consent to and or approved the institution of the case (against landlords) and that the relationship between it and the tenants is governed by tenancy agreements which clearly define the obligations of the parties therein.
Court documents show that notwithstanding the closure of shops and prohibition against the sale of non-food items by the government, it continued to pay its taxes and or bills such as water, electricity, bank loan facilities and security for the malls and arcades.