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Timothy Kanyeredzi Masembe
Masembe is the managing partner of MMAKS and the head of the firm’s Litigation team. His practice focuses mainly on commercial litigation and arbitration, as well as corporate and commercial law.
He is a Barrister-at-law and a Member of the Honourable Society of the Inner Temple, UK. He holds an LL.B (Hons.) degree and was called to the Bar of England and Wales in 1992. In addition, he obtained a Diploma in Legal Practice from the Law Development Centre in Uganda.
Masembe is one of the leading litigators in Uganda and has appeared in many ground-breaking cases involving banks. He was recently granted a special license to appear in the Tanzania Courts. Timothy is an external lead counsel for the Bank of Uganda and has thus been at the centre of the reconstruction and improvement of Uganda’s entire banking sector.
In addition, Masembe has served as a member of the Capital Markets Authority Board.
Chambers Global 2022 described Timothy as being “widely recognised as one of the country’s foremost litigators. He routinely features on some of the jurisdiction’s largest corporate and commercial cases, with further proficiency in public law disputes. Practising out of Kampala, he is also noted for his counsel in arbitration proceedings”.
MEMBERSHIP IN PROFESSIONAL SOCIETIES
- Advocate, High Court of Uganda
- Barrister-at-law, England & Wales
- Member, Honourable Society of Inner Temple, England
- Member, Uganda Law Society
- Member, East African Law Society
- Postgraduate Diploma in Legal Practice, Law Development Centre, Uganda
- LL.B (Hons), University of London, England
- 2005 – DATE Partner, MMAKS Advocates
- 1993 – 2005 Advocate and Partner, Mugerwa & Masembe Advocates
AWARDS AND ACCOLADES
- Masembe is consistently ranked as a leading lawyer in his field by Chambers Global.
- Chambers Global, 2022 recognises Masembe’s excellent reputation for his litigation prowess.
AREAS OF EXPERTISE
- Corporate and Commercial Law
- Litigation and Dispute Resolution
- Acting in an arbitration dispute against a multi-national beverage company for one of its shareholders in a claim to recover close to UGX17B (US$ 4.8 million) being an estimate of the lost value of the shareholding because of a failure to recognise the shareholder’s pre-emption rights on various share transfers and discrimination in various share allotments contrary to the provisions of the allotting resolutions.
- Acting for the Bank of Uganda in a suit involving a fraudulent acquisition and conveyance of securities encumbered by the plaintiffs to secure a debt facility of US$ 20 million.
- Acting for Barclays Bank and ABSA to defend a suit seeking nullification of a structured agricultural finance facility worth US$ 29.4 million advanced by the defendants.
- Acting successfully for a Kenyan and Tanzanian company in connection with a complex arbitration dispute referred to the London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA) arising out of a consortium agreement.
- Acting for Aggreko Uganda Limited (a thermal power distributor) contesting a VAT assessment levied it by the Uganda Revenue Authority of Ug. Shs. 145 billion (US$ 58 million). The matter was successfully defended by a judgment dated 12th September 2012.
- Acting for Google Uganda Limited in a suit seeking a declaration to the effect that the exclusive supply of marketing and sales support services to Google Ireland Limited was an exported service and is, as such, zero-rated.
- Acting for the Bank of Uganda and Standard Chartered Bank to recover US$ 34 million from guarantors of a company indebted to the latter under various facilities assigned to the Bank of Uganda.
- Currently acting for an international development bank to recover a sum in excess of US$ 118 million against a defaulting hotel group in Uganda. The instruction involves defending the bank against a suit by the borrower claiming that the bank breached its financing obligations to the borrower and seeking special damages in excess of US$ 200 million. The matter involves an application for arbitration referral to South Africa and a contentious hybrid dispute resolution clause.
- Successfully acting for Absa Uganda Limited in an appeal in the Supreme Court seeking to overturn the decision of the High Court and Court of Appeal, which dismissed an application to set aside a consent judgment where the appellant had consented to repayment of a loan debt sum. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal and confirmed that the appellant was indebted to Barclays Bank of Uganda Limited in the sum of about US$ 20 million by the date of judgment.
- Acting for Uganda Breweries Limited (UBL) in a tax dispute against Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) where URA takes the view that the export by UBL through a foreign related entity (which was a Ugandan resident for that purpose before export), amounted to a sale between UBL and the foreign related entity and these transactions attracted VAT of over US$ 70 million. UBL contends that there was no sale between itself and the related entity and that the related entity was simply its agent for the export, which under the law is zero-rated for VAT.
- Acted successfully for the Bank of Uganda in a constitutional petition where the main issue was whether the takeover, liquidation, revocation of licence, and sale of the National Bank of Commerce by the Bank of Uganda was unconstitutional. The court by majority decision of 4:1 found that the acts of the Bank of Uganda were constitutional and dismissed the petition with each party bearing its own costs. This decision vindicates the Bank of Uganda in its role as regulator when it comes to supervision, and the closing and selling of financial institutions where their decline poses a systemic risk to the industry and economy.
- Acting for the Uganda Bankers Association and all commercial banks in Uganda in a constitutional petition challenging the exercise of the Uganda Revenue Authority’s powers under sections 41 and 42 of the Tax Procedures Code Act, 2014 and declaring the said provisions unconstitutional following the issuance by the Uganda Revenue Authority of notices pursuant to those provisions, on all commercial banks requiring them to provide the bank account details for all their customers