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The Ugandan economy saw notable growth in the 1990s and early 2000s, though this has slowed in recent years. The slowdown is attributed partly to external factors, including unrest in South Sudan. Oil and gas remains a hot topic and potential driver of growth; of the estimated 6.5bn barrels of oil that have been discovered, approximately 1.4bn are recoverable.

Uganda has a buoyant legal market. Though international firms are prohibited from practising in the country, they can – and do – strike up alliances and networks. In a significant development in September 2017, Dentons announced a combination with Kampala Associated Advocates.

Bowmans’ Kampala office is part of pan-African law firm Bowmans, providing the Ugandan operation with access to a platform of over six offices in four countries. As well as its significant cross-border capabilities on the continent, the team is also active in transactions involving the US and Asia. In one recent highlight, Brian Kalule, as Ugandan counsel, advised a Seattle-based company on its financings to two companies. Other significant areas of expertise within the firm include Fintech, financial services regulation, competition and oil and gas. Key names in the sizeable team include managing partner William Kasozi, the ‘very well-known’ David Mpanga, former state attorney Daniel Gantungo, Frederick Mpanga and Ernest Wiltshire, whose expertise takes in commercial and product liability litigation, foreign direct investment and employment.

Highly regarded Ugandan firm Katende, Ssempebwa And Company is among the oldest in the market, having been established in 1969. It has the size, resources and experience to handle a raft of transactional and contentious work. Its client base is equally diverse, including major airlines, financial institutions, telecoms providers and oil and gas companies, among others. On the contentious side, the team has a broad commercial litigation practice and also stands out for handling public interest litigation. The firm is the Uganda member of the LEX Africa legal network. Many of its lawyers are educated both in Africa and elsewhere, including Europe, the US and Australia. Senior partners John Katende and Fredrick Ssempebwa are well-known names. Sim Katende, who heads the corporate and commercial department, is another key contact.

The ‘very responsive’ team at ENSafrica provides ‘sound legal advice with a commercial lens’. The firm enjoys a strong reputation across the African continent; in Uganda and East Africa, it provides a complete offering that gives it an edge over other competitors. The Kampala office acts for domestic, African and international clients across a diverse spread of industries and legal fields, including banking, competition, employment and IP. Recent work included Bernard Katureebe’s advice to Bank of Uganda on the introduction of Islamic banking in the country, and Donald Nyakairu’s assistance to Torch Hill Investment Partners and Allies DBT Africa with a $42m investment in a production facility. The highly regarded Phillip Karugaba draws on over 24 years’ experience. Also recommended are Rachel Musoke, Maliza Kwera, Rehema Nakirya Ssemyalo, senior associate Sheila Ann Pacuto and associate Birungi Kaburara.

Full-service law firm K&K Advocates acts for local and international clients across the gamut of contentious and non-contentious business law matters. The team is particularly renowned in the oil and gas and electricity sectors, where it has a strong track record in transactions, projects and commercial advisory work. Procurement, public law and PPPs are also areas of focus. The firm is part of the Multilaw legal network, which includes law firms from 100 countries. Among a host of recent highlights was managing partner Edwin Karugire’s advice to the Uganda Communications Commission on proposed laws and regulations. In 2017, it was bolstered by the arrival of associate partners Cynthia Musoke from Bowmans and Paul Katuramu from an in-house position. Kiryowa Kiwanuka is recommended.

Africa Legal Network member MMAKS Advocates fields eight partners and 15 associates, making it among the larger law firms in Uganda. Many members of the team have studied and worked internationally, including Fiona Magona, who is an active member of the corporate team. Timothy Kanyerezi Masembe and Moses Jurua Adriko, the former president of the Uganda Law Society, are renowned litigators.

The Uganda member of the DLA Piper Africa network, Sebalu & Lule Advocates was established in 1980. Its client base reflects its cross-border capabilities and its prominence on the domestic market, comprising a mixture of local and international companies. The corporate and commercial department includes managing partner Barnabas Tumusingize and Gertrude Wamala Karugaba, who has additional experience in capital markets. Energy and infrastructure expert Nicholas Ecimu is another key figure.

Shonubi, Musoke & Co Advocates was founded in 1987, and later expanded its reach through the establishment of an office in Bujumbura, Burundi, and has a leading East African practice. It has a core focus on corporate and commercial matters and for Africa-wide and global work, enjoys a strategic alliance with Norton Rose Fulbright. In M&A, finance and projects, it receives a steady flow of instructions from clients based in Africa, Asia, Europe and the US. In the aviation sector, it counts British Airways, Air Uganda and Emirates among its clients. Name partners Peters Musoke and Alan Shonubi are key contacts.

Capital Law Partners & Advocates has a solid corporate practice, which centres on M&A, restructuring, private equity and corporate and commercial advisory work. Intellectual property is another strength; the team has a notable track record in patent, trade mark and copyright litigation. In 2017 the team was bolstered by the arrival of Emily Gakiza, formerly head of legal at Standard Chartered Bank Uganda. William Were heads the banking and litigation departments, and Ronald Asiimwe leads the energy practice.

Onyango & Company Advocates acts for a considerable number of international clients, which turn to the team for assistance with corporate M&A, tax, real estate and finance matters. Several lawyers in the team have a background in not-for-profit work, and the firm is very active in pro bono; Miriam Babirye Kaggwa leads the not-for-profit practice. Onyango Owor is the managing partner and Adania Annet Bada heads the litigation practice. Principal associate Arthur Byara is another active member of the team.

Signum Advocates has developed notable expertise in e-commerce, ICT and reputational management, and has an active SME client base. Other clients include well-established companies in the automotive, telecoms and financial services industries. The team was bolstered by the arrival of Ian Mutibwa from KPMG in January 2017; he joined real estate specialist Alex Matovu and Philip Mugisha, whose broad practice takes in energy, finance and corporate law.

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