Solicitors governing body: Uganda Law Society
Financial regulator: Capital Markets Authority (CMA)
IFLR1000 ranking categories:
Uganda was a protectorate of the British Empire until 1962. The country is a member state of the Commonwealth of Nations, and alongside Swahili, English is an official language. The Republic of Uganda’s legal system is based on English Common Law, and is also influenced by African customary law.
The Uganda Law Society is a member of the East Africa Law Society, which allows for advocates of the courts of Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda or Burundi to practice in Uganda. The nations are considering the adoption of a common legal system in the near future, as well as a shared currency.
There are currently no other agreements that allow foreign nationals to practice in Uganda, however foreign firms are allowed to practice as long as they have local lawyers. Rather than establish their own offices in Kampala, the capital and legal hub, international firms and networks have so far been inclined to establish connections with local firms.
The most notable associations are AF Mpanga of the Bowman Gilfillan Africa Group, MMAKS of the Africa Legal Network and Sebalu & Lule of the DLA Piper Africa Group. A recent development saw Shonubi Musoke & Co form an official alliance with Norton Rose Fulbright.
Following the recent discovery of oil, and recent agreements to begin its removal, there is a lot of work due to come into the East African jurisdiction in the coming years and a lot of large projects in the pipeline. Most of the work for these projects is likely to be handled by large English firms with an African presence, while local teams are contracted for the local aspects.
ABMAK Associates was active during the research period in project finance and development. The firm has done regular work n the energy sector, advising the project developers and sponsors on the construction of a cogeneration power plant by the Sugar Corporation of Uganda, and on the construction of a hydroelectric dam and the Bufulubi-Mayuge solar power plant.
The firm has also been active in the mining sector, advising Guangzhou Dongsong Energy on the development of the major Sukulu mining project.
In oil and gas the firm worked with key client Total on the East Africa crude oil pipeline project, and the Tilenga upstream development.
"The partners are all easily reachable and available; they have good knowledge of the environment; they are not "behind the desk" lawyers and are comfortable getting out of the office to engage with other stakeholders to get accurate, practical information; are quick to respond and give very practical advice." – Banking and finance
AF Mpanga is a leading Ugandan firm and part of the pan-African network of Bowmans. Though much of the firm’s work is confidential, it has been particularly active in capital markets, M&A and corporate finance.
The firm has shown particular strength in the TMT sector during the research period, working for clients including BT and Google. The firm also has a strong relationship with the Ugandan government, conducting reviews into several issues in the banking and finance sector.
Birungyi Barata & Associates were active during the research period in banking and finance, particularly financial restructuring.
The firm advised Xcusive Cuttings Uganda and Master Wood Works on debt restructurings. The firm was also active in infrastructure, advising on the establishment of an IT park through a public private partnership.
"Excellent and always available."
Engoru Mutebi is active in financial and corporate and project development work.
During the research period, the firm has been active recently in capital markets and M&A. Notable deals included advising on the Ugandan aspects of Platinum Equity’s ongoing acquisition of Johnson and Johnson’s blood glucose monitoring division, and in arranging Advance Global Capital’s credit facility.
The firm was also active in project development, advising Tritnete Global Energy Group on a proposed 100MW solar power project.
"The firm is underrated and one to be reckoned with. The team is made of young, ambitious and very knowledgeable lawyers. Among the highly rated firms, Engoru Mutebi is my usual choice. This is because the advice we receive is carefully crafted to suit our business needs and company strategy. We feel that the firm has a clear understanding of who we are, the environment in which we operate and the needs of the business. We also feel that the lawyers are always available to answer our queries and provide legal services. We feel that, although we may be a small company, we are a priority for them and have never been made to feel any less than a valued client. They are also very innovative in the solutions they offer to us. They are also very flexible as a firm and will accommodate the client's demands to the best of their ability. On the downside however, they lack contacts in offices where it matters which can slow down work. We also feel that they do not market themselves enough and undersell their services." – Capital markets, M&A, project finance, and restructuring and insolvency
"A highly responsive law firm offering legal solutions to the client and willing to assist the client in realising their intended plan." – Banking and finance, and restructuring and insolvency
"Engoru Mutebi Advocates presents a formidable team which is heavily specialised in the types of financings that my company offers. We need lawyers who are familiar with this new and sophisticated form of financing. The team has extensive knowledge and experience, provides practical solutions and is very reliable." – Banking and finance, competition, M&A, and project development
"I worked closely with Arnold who was professional and efficient in all matters relating to contract and energy law/negotiations in Uganda." – Capital markets, and project finance
"The firm has a vibrant capital markets practice with a highly talented team. We have received high-quality advice on all the mandates where we have sourced the firm's services. One of the key highlights of its recent work is its advice to us on a proposed transfer of our retail business to another regulated entity in Uganda. The team has excellent people skills and offers practical solutions in very complex transactions. We are extremely pleased with the firm's services." – Capital markets, M&A, private equity, project finance and restructuring and insolvency
Arnold Lule Sekiwano
"Highly efficient. Deadlines limited by country response times."
"He is very aggressive and knowledgeable. He is willing to walk the extra mile on behalf of the client."
"He is uniquely creative in the solutions he offers. He has a very cool head on his shoulders and will maintain calmness in the midst of a difficult scenario. He communicates with the client and ensures that the client is well updated and kept abreast of all developments."
ENSafrica’s branch in Uganda has a particular expertise in project development.
The firm has shown during the research period particular strength in the oil and gas sector, advising the Ugandan government on the East Africa crude oil pipeline, as well as CNOOC on the Kingfisher development area.
The firm works with foreign national development banks, notably the German DEG and Dutch FMO, which it worked with on the first and second Nyamagasani hydropower projects.
MMAKS Advocates is a leading Ugandan firm active in project development, capital markets and M&A, and amember of the Africa Legal Network (ALN).
The firm recently has been local counsel to the acquirer on regional deals. Ongoing deals such as TPG Global’s acquisition of the holding company of Cellulant Group and Canal+ international’s ongoing acquisition of MultiChoice Africa are examples of this. Other M&A work sees the firm advising on the Ugandan law aspects of Prudential’s acquisition of a 73% stake in GenAfrica asset managers limited.
In project development, the firm advised the Government of Uganda on the drafting of the project framework agreement for Uganda’s first oil refinery.
During the research period MMAKS hired Shellomith Irungu from Hashi Energy as director of its banking and finance practice.
"A dynamic team, commercially aware and who give sound advice." – Capital markets, competition, M&A, private equity, and restructuring and insolvency
"MMAKS has good response times and provides practical and very useful advice. The firm understands and highlights commercial issues effectively and allows the clients to make sound legal decisions. The firm needs to expand its team to increase its capacity although it is cognizant of this and in the past year has worked on increasing its numbers." – Competition, M&A, private equity, restructuring and insolvency
"Reactive, spot on advice and collaborative." – M&A and project finance
"The firm is very responsive, and its advice is clear and thoughtful. The lawyers had no difficulty in understanding complex or difficult legal issues." – Project finance
"Responsive; clear advice; no problems with level or type of service."
"She is efficient and highly effective. She is highly knowledgeable and has very good client management skills."
"He is very responsive and knowledgeable on local law matters."
Mukumbya Musoke Advocates was recently active in project development and financeand M&A. Deal highlights include advising JP Morgan and Barclays on a loan to an industrial supplier.
In M&A, the firm advised Q-Sourcing on the acquisition of a shareholding by Servec group, including Q-Sourcing’s affiliates in Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania, Burundi and South Sudan.
In project development, the firm has worked in the power sector, working as borrower’s and sponsor’s counsel on the Ndugutu power project. The firm has also worked as lender’s local counsel on a number of developments, representing lenders including OPEC fund and the Africa Development bank in the Achwa 2 hydropower project. The firm also worked on the financing of the Bugoye and Kikagati hydropower projects, in the latter case overcoming the legal obstacles arising from the project being on the Uganda Tanzania boarder.
During the research period, the firm recruited new partner Dian Kibuuka, who specialises in banking and finance as well as general corporate law, from V Agaba Advocates.
"Competent, reliable and responsive with a good understanding of local law and practice and, typically, relatively pragmatic." – Project finance and development
"The firm has senior partners who have in-depth expertise in development and project finance. The lawyers are very good at execution and provide alternatives to legal complexities in transactions."- Project finance and development
Shonubi Musoke & Co maintains a formal alliance with Norto Rose Fulbright.
In banking and finance the firm worked as lender’s counsel to several banks in a loan to M-Kopa. However, the firm more often acts as borrower and sponsor’s council, recently advising Elgon Hydro Siti, and Umene and regular sponsor DI Frontier Market Energy & Carbon fund.
The firm also worked in M&A during the research period, advising AutoXpress International on its acquisition of Trentyre Uganda.
In project development, the firm is particularly active in Uganda’s growing oil and gas sector, advising Total E&P on the Tilenga Area upstream development. The firm also advised Vallourec regarding its establishment in the Uganda market.
Standard Bank South Africa are a key client, with the firm working on a number of deals for it in alongside Norton Rose Fulbright. The firm also works for the Ugandan government, with partner Noah Edwin Mwesigwa chairing the winding up commission of the Kilembe Mines concession.
"By far the most professional law firm I have encountered in Africa." – M&A, and restructuring and insolvency
"Good knowledge." – Banking and finance
"Highly experienced and well-motivated staff, and performs to expectations." – Banking and finance, and project development
"Professionalism, diligence, timely responses to enquiries, and customer care. No weaknesses found yet." – M&A and private equity
"The firm, and especially Mr Noah Mwesigwa is very instrumental in protecting our interests and giving advice that protects the company. The firm is knowledgeable, responsive, quick to learn about the growing trends in Uganda's energy sector. We rely on it heavily for advice and representation." – Project development, and restructuring and insolvency
"The team from Shonubi Musoke is professional and well able to balance advising on a range of issues from employment law to land regulations. The firm offers timely and commercial advice always taking the needs of the business into account and arrives at commercially viable options."
"Very strong on corporate law." – Banking and finance, and restructuring and insolvency
"Good industry knowledge."
"He is a great lawyer. He is always available and ready to advise on any topic and assigns cases within the legal team accordingly. It is valuable for us to have a lawyer that the company can seek advice from in a transparent and professional manner."
"He is very knowledgeable and competent. He gives great advice, and is very responsive and approachable."
"Diligent, professional, timely response to enquiries, customer care."
"Knowledgeable; swift in approach; understands our business and company needs; offers alternative scenarios."