Tycoon Sudhir Ruparelia to deliver a keynote speech at Makerere law society annual dinner - Whisper Eye

Tycoon Sudhir Ruparelia to deliver a keynote speech at Makerere law society annual dinner

Business and Law will come  together with Makerere University law students  on  Saturday , 21st April  2018 at the  Makerere Law Society annual Dinner to be held at Serena Kampala at 6 pm.

Dr Sudhir Ruparelia  a renowned Uganda businessman with a chain of businesses in Uganda shall give a keynote speech to the law fraternity society of  Makerere University .

According to whisper eye in Kampala  below is the awaited keynote  speech

I was delighted as I am now before you, when I received the
invitation to do two things this evening;
1.To attend this dinner
2.To give a key note address.
Delighted because sharing experiences with the youth is as
delighting as it is rejuvenating. Moreso future lawyers.
Thank you for the invitation.
The topic is
“the relationship between business and the Law; and
the opportunities that will be available for Lawyers in
the future.”
In this address the topic is viewed within the School of Law
at 50 theme;
This is too broad and rather complex a topic. Luckily what
is requested of me is to speak to you as a businessman and
that is who I am- a seasoned entrepreneur who is neither a
Lawyer nor an academic. Being seasoned carries with it a
tag of weathering storms and soldiering on a challenging
journey and that I have done to the extent that I was deemed
worthy of speaking to such an audience at a dinner. What
you put at risk and I will be talking about risk business and
law, is your appetite. I hope you will excuse me if my
address takes your appetite with it.
My address will be in two segments.
1. The Relationship between business and the law
2. The Opportunities that will be available for Lawyers in
the future.
But before that, a brief over view of my journey will assist
in giving a proper perspective of my experiences and what
I have to share with you.
I was born in Katwe Kabanyolo , Kasese. I left Uganda in
1972 for the United Kingdom when Asians were expelled.
In the United Kingdom, I pursued some studies and at the
same time worked . A typical day was a combination of
studying and working for up to 16 hours. I was a cab driver
in London and had a part time job in the accounts
department of a well established mid-size enterprise.
I returned to Uganda in 1985 on a scouting mission.
In December, 1986 I started business-trading business on
kampala road with a capital of USD25,000. Like Chairman
Mao said a long journey starts with one step.
From the one trading step in December 1986 to date the
Ruparelia Group is comprised of 14 Companies in different
-Real Estate with Meera Investments Ltd as the groups
flagship Company.
-Hospitality under which Speke Resort Munyonyo, Kabira
Country Club, Speke Apartments and others fall.
-Education. In this sector we have Kampala International
School offering an International Curriculum, Kampala
Parents School offering the nation curriculum, Delhi Public
International School and Victoria University.
-Insurance- We have Goldstar Insurance Co. Ltd
-Media-We have the oldest private FM broadcasting entity
in Uganda, Radio Sanyu.
-Rosebud Ltd- this is a floriculture Company currently
exporting 400k roses daily to Europe.
Until recently Crane Bank Ltd was one of the Group
Companies. When all court matters are over I will be glad
to return and share invaluable unwritten Crane Bank
lessons – not what we see in the press.
The groups human personnel is 7,000 strong. That’s a
snapshot of the Ruparelia Group.
As you can imagine, the group deals with many suppliers,
many clients, many regulators including Workers Unions,
European authorities for the flower exports, e.t.c. The
wheels of business to a great extent run on the Law. Should
the rule of law malfunction business will follow suit or put
in other words the healthy check of businesses is as good as
the rule of law prevailing at any one time.
To do all this one needs good professionals, good
dependable people and this includes good lawyers.
I will not define who a good Lawyer is but professionalism,
reputation, knowledge and agility are key attributes. A good
lawyer must constantly be ahead of the curve in the
Back to the topic ;
1.The Relationship between business and the Law.
When we talk of business, there is one key pillar of it that is
inevitable. That is Capital. One thing we must constantly
remember about capital is the now famed phrase; CAPITAL
IS A COWARD. This phrase first came in print in October,
1884 in the Jersey Journal.
As you know when threatened, a coward flees and so does
capital under threat. It goes where it is safe and stays where
it is protected. It flees when threatened and unprotected.
The biggest protector of capital and therefore business is the
Law. This sums up the relationship between business and
the Law.
The importance of business in economic and human
development cannot be over emphasized. The protector of
capital and the entrepreneur that uses capital to create value
for society is therefore very linked and very important
This protector of capital called the Law is very crucial from
the basic elements such as incorporation of a Company, the
concept of limited liability to complex competition and antimonopoly
regulations, labour laws, complex project
structures and contracts such as the recently signed
agreement relating to the oil refinery in Uganda and now
cyber Laws, privacy laws that have seen face book on the
spot after the e.t.c
What then, with this protector does a businessman or rather
businessperson to be gender sensitive, takes risk with faith
in the protector that is the Law. The protector above the law
is the Almighty. Risk taking is an attribute of
entrepreneurship. That said, risk must always be weighed
against rewards and possibilities. What is undisputed is that
every business has risk well embedded in it. The Law is the
strongest insurance against many risks. That is why
confidence in a functioning and reliable judicial system is
key for business. The compliance and regulatory
environment is important too. Business thrives when the
rule of Law exists. As a businessman you always want that
comfort that the law will protect you and you can run to
Court or a Regulator should the need arise.
This applies even when it is against the State. As you will
appreciate the State is mighty. The Law though is mightier
and in that lies the strength business derives from the Law.
A case in point.
In 1994 Meera Investments Ltd, our groups real estate
company obtained a Certificate of Incentives from Uganda
Investment Authority. To qualify for incentives there was a
monetary investment threshold that one had to attain.
On attaining that threshold Meera Investments Ltd applied
and demonstrated that it had 5 properties whose value
exceeded the threshold thus the grant of the Certificate of
Incentives that gave an exemption from corporation tax,
withholding tax and tax on dividends for 5 years. This
enabled Meera Investments Ltd invest more. That indeed is
the essence of incentives. To attract more capital and more
investments. With more capital and more investments in a
country the spin offs are numerous.
In 1999, Uganda Revenue Authority slammed Meera
Investments Ltd with a Shs. 36 billion tax assessment
claiming that only 5 properties listed for purposes of
demonstration of attainment of the threshold were exempt.
Meera Investments Ltd on the other hand maintained that a
threshold is a minimum qualifying mark and not the ceiling
.Therefore all of its properties were exempt.
Meera Investments Ltd run to Court and sued the
Commissioner General, Uganda Revenue Authority as well
as Uganda Investment Authority.
The case moved from High Court to the Supreme Court on
a technicality raised by the Commissioner General of
Uganda Revenue Authority to the effect that it is only URA
that could be sued.
The Supreme Court ruled that the Commissioner General
could be sued and referred the case back to High Court. In
end the Certificate of Incentives was respected. The
Supreme Court decision should be good reading for Law
Students. For Meera Investments to have succeeded against
a government agency illustrates the strength business
derives from the Law. Perhaps Meera Investment would be
no more had the law not offered that protection.
With all challenges that institutions face, the Judiciary in
Uganda is still a good place to resort to. I hope the future
generation that you represent will make it even better and
not worse.
Beyond litigation, the Law, through regulatory tools ensures
sanity in a very competitive business environment. Business
rivalry can be chaotic. The law is at hand in containing what
would otherwise be anarchy in business. The law ensures
predictability and provides, appropriate checks and
As you can imagine, the group deals with many suppliers,
many clients, many regulators including Workers Unions,
European authorities for the flower exports, e.t.c. The
wheels of business to a great extent run on the Law.
To do all this one needs good professionals, good people
and this includes a good lawyers.
I will not define who a good Lawyer is but professionalism,
reputation, knowledge and agility are key attributes. A good
lawyer must constantly be ahead of the curve in the
I will now turn to the second and last segment.
2.The Opportunities that will be available for lawyers in
the future.
In the Journey I started in Uganda in December 1986, I have
seen opportunities in all sectors and professions. The legal
profession included.
For opportunities in the future you must be constantly aware
of the changes in this digital world. They are more rapid
than most of us imagine and that is where your opportunities
Innovation is now the center stage of everything and you
young lawyers must be innovative.
Major opportunities lie beyond the traditional litigator, the
traditional Registrar of Companies, the traditional Judicial
Officer. This is a narrow way of looking at the future.
Lawyers have an edge in building careers in tech firms,
insurance banking, the internet of things.
To prepare yourselves for the future, business literacy,
financial literacy, communication skills will give you a
premium. You have to start challenging yourselves and
challenging your curriculum. Are you getting any training
in these aspects?
You need to equip yourselves to be visible in the
increasingly challenging world. You must be resilient.
I have built resilience and this has helped me weather many
storms. Resilience has many attributes. They include;
 Emotional intelligence i.e. ability to control one’s
feelings, get out of the human weakness of looking at
others from your perspective, step outside and look.be
able to anticipate. Have a vision.
 Authenticity- i.e. be true to the values and goals you
stand for. Drive the identity that you are even when the
going is tough.
 Agility- i.e the ability to think through situations
quickly, transform challenges into opportunities.
Each time we hear of Artificial Intelligence, crypto
currencies e.t.c. we tend to imagine they are too remote or
rather that we are too remote. This is a big mistake.
These times are with us. We must understand them.
The opportunities available for lawyers in the future are
enormous but they demand a shift from old school in all
ways. Business automation with the modern computing
power is already providing accurate answers to legal
questions . Are you preparing yourself? Are you
adaptable to new thinking, new tools, new technology?
That in my view is the outline of the opportunities for
lawyers in the future.
As I conclude I will leave you with an article that I read
in one of the Harvard Business Review Magazines- It is
The case for Plain-Language Contracts.
It is an amazing shift from the legalese of WHERETOFORE,
shift from unnecessarily long contracts. It illustrates the
need, even from a language perspective, for a change in how
Lawyers go about their business. The change is not only in
technology and business environment.
I have a few copies of the Article for you. I hope the
organizers will make it available for each of you.
I wish each of you a bright and successful future.
I will end by reminding you that there is no dignity in
poverty. The key is in hard and UpToDate work . Skill tool
yourself to avoid poverty but avoid poverty in dignity.
Thank you.
Dr. Sudhir Ruparelia