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Uganda’s legal eyes

Article - November 13, 2014

Full service law practice with market-leading expertise to navigate investors in Uganda’s economy


Uganda’s expanding economy and its vast natural resources have seen the East African nation become an increasingly attractive location for foreign investors, but navigating the country’s legal system requires substantial local expertise and experience.

Assisting many investors is Ugandan law firm Sebalu & Lule Advocates, a member of DLA Piper’s Africa Group, which is an alliance of leading independent law firms working together across Africa. Sebalu & Lule is one of Uganda’s oldest full service law firms and has been in operation for more than three decades, evolving as the country has developed both its political system and its increasingly global economic outlook.

“There are several international investors who have come to this country without knowledge of local laws or market practices. Our role typically is to advise them on how to set up in the country, obtain the required licences and permits and comply with regulatory frameworks in the key sectors. We have supported and grown with several investors that way,” says Barnabas R. Tumusingize, Managing Partner at the firm.

“Many entities coming to the country for the first time benefit from our services across all our sector groups and practice areas. We advise foreign and local investors interested in energy (oil and gas and power), mining, infrastructure, banking and financial services, franchising and other areas,” Mr. Tumusingize adds.

Sebalu & Lule, which was founded by legal experts Paulo Sebalu and Godfrey Lule in 1980, currently has 20 lawyers, some of whom are seconded to support the in-house requirements of long-term clients, ensuring strong relationships are forged and intimate knowledge of their business is gained.

The firm’s six partners are specialists, respectively, in banking and finance, commercial dispute resolution, tax, energy, mining, employment, pensions, corporate law and capital markets. Further expansion is planned over the next five years that will see a doubling of the human resources at the firm, which already works with the largest banks in the country and supports client requirements on capital markets transactions, infrastructure projects, oil and gas exploration activities, employment and pensions issues including immigration.

A key sector for the firm, and Uganda, has been financial markets, which have undergone widespread reforms and required Sebalu & Lule’s legal advisors to support investors to understand the financial sector and align themselves with regulatory changes.

“We are keen to assist investors in navigating this economy and aim to create long-term relations using our knowledge base and on-the-ground experience gained over the several years we’ve practiced. We see ourselves as a critical player in the broader framework that ensures that investors coming to the country find an environment that is conducive to them doing what they are supposed to do,” Mr. Tumusingize points out.

Sebalu & Lule’s association with DLA Piper means it can use the group’s network of experts to assist it on international mandates and to broaden its knowledge base, explains Mr Tumusingize. The association ensures that clients with cross border operations have adequate and credible coverage.

Such efforts are helping Sebalu & Lule to make Uganda’s legal framework more navigable, ensuring foreign investment and expertise can continue to enter the country with ease and support the country’s explosive growth.