John W. Katende (SC)

John W. Katende (SC)

Founding and Senior Partner


+256-414-233770 / 233908


  • Harvard Law School, Master of Laws (LL.M) -1970
  • One of the very first East Africans to receive an LL.M from Harvard Law School
  • An African Fellowship Fellow
  • University of East Africa at Dar-es-Salaam, Bachelor of Laws (LL.B) -1968
  • Graduated first in his class


  • Notary Public
  • Commissioner for Oaths
  • Advocate in the Republic of Uganda

Countries In Which Practiced

  • United States of America
  • Uganda


  • International Bar Association
  • East African Law Society
  • Uganda Law Society


Numerous articles and treatises.


  • English
  • Luganda

Contact Me

    Mr. Katende is one of the two Founding and Senior Partners of KATS.

    His experience spans over 55 years practice in Uganda and the East and Central Africa region.

    In his career, he has been involved in any and everything that has to do with law and legal practice in Uganda. Ask any judge or legal practitioner and with unanimity, they concur that without doubt John is one of the finest lawyers in the country’s history.

    As a law student at the University of Dar-es-Salaam in Tanzania, class of ’69, his classmates included:

    • Former Vice President of Uganda, HE Right Honourable Edward Ssekandi
    • Former Chief Justice of Uganda, Benjamin Odoki (2001-2013)
    • Former Chief Justice of Kenya, Johnson Evans Gicheru (2003-2017)
    • Former Chief Justice of Tanzania, Augustino Ramadhani (2010-2017)
    • Former Principal Judge of Uganda, James Ogoola (2004-2016)
    • Former Attorney General of Kenya, Amos Wako (2013-2017)
    • Former Justice of the Court of Appeal of Uganda, Caroline Okello

    He had the unique distinction of being the youngest student in his class pretty much throughout his academic career, while at the same time excelling as one of the best students in his classes, winning numerous awards along the way. He graduated top of this distinguished law class and was awarded full African Fellowship Scholarships to study his Master of Laws (LLM) at either Oxford University in the United Kingdom or Harvard University in the United States of America. He chose Harvard and became one of the very first Ugandan graduates with an LLM from that elite institution.

    Mr. Katende has lectured law at Uganda’s premier tertiary institution, Makerere University, teaching ‘Introduction to Law’ and the ‘Law of Business Associations’ throughout the 70’s. He has authored many a learned treatise including The Law of Business Associations in East and Central Africa’ which is one of the leading texts in all the law schools across East and Central Africa. The 2 students he selected to work as his research assistants on the book were John Patrick Amama Mbabazi – who went on to become the Prime Minister of Uganda, and John Sentamu – who went on to become the Archbishop of York in the United Kingdom.

    Many of his students have gone on to have exceptional careers as lawyers, judges of the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal and High Court, company secretaries, politicians, businessmen including but not limited to:

    • Former Chief Justice of Uganda, Hon. Bart Katureebe
    • Former Speaker of Parliament, Hon. Rebecca Kadaga
    • Rtd Supreme Court Justice Karokora
    • Justice Amos Twinomujuni
    • Justice Constance Byamugisha
    • Justice Steven Kavuma
    • Justice Augustine Nshimye
    • Justice Stella Arach Amoko
    • Justice Moses Mukiibi
    • Rtd Justice Edmund Sempa Lugayizi
    • Justice Lamech Nsubuga Mukasa
    • Justice Elizabeth Ibanda-Nahamya (currently Judge of the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals)
    • Justice Vincent Kibuuka Musoke
    • Justice Atwoki Rugadya
    • Justice Margaret Oguli Oumo
    • Justice Ralph Ochan
    • Justice Vincent Zehurikiize
    • Justice Julia Sebutinde (currently Vice President of the International Court of Justice)
    • Hon. Khiddu Makubuya
    • Hon. Amama Mbabazi
    • Archbishop John Sentamu
    • Gen. Kale Kayihura
    • Hon. Sam Kuteesa
    • Peter Kabatsi
    • Elly Karuhanga
    • Elijah Wante
    • IGP Okoth Ochola
    • Hon. Medi Kaggwa
    • Hon. Maria Matembe

    He has also served as an external examiner for the Universities of Dar-es-Salaam, Zambia, Malawi and Nairobi for several years.

    His distinguished career in the academic field is rivalled by equal merit in the practice of law. He has been involved in a lot of groundbreaking and law-creating litigation that has significantly contributed to the evolution of jurisprudence and legal practice in Uganda. Outside the courtrooms, he has been involved in the structuring and planning of many of the largest commercial ventures in Uganda and he continues to routinely advise leading commercial concerns in Uganda on a day-to-day basis.

    He has expertise in the areas of Corporate and Commercial Litigation, Mediation and Arbitration, Corporate and Commercial Law, Capital Markets, Banking & Finance, International Trade, Mergers &  Acquisitions.

    He has served in various capacities as a Director or as Chairperson of the Boards of several large domestic and multinational corporations. For over thirteen (13) years, John was the Honorary Attorney General and Chief Legal Advisor to the Kingdom of Buganda and to His Majesty the Kabaka of Buganda. He was also the Chairperson of the Buganda Constitutional Review Commission.

    Mr. Katende was honoured to have sworn in the King of Buganda, His Majesty Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi at his coronation on 31 July 1993. He was awarded ‘Ekitibwa ky’Amafumu n’Engabo’ by the Kabaka of Buganda in 2011 for his outstanding contributions towards the Kingdom. This is the highest honor that can be bestowed for service in the Kingdom of Buganda.

    On the 31 March 2017, he was recognized by the Uganda Law Society (ULS) and awarded the ULS’ first ‘Distinguished Service Award’ at the Uganda Law Society Annual General Meeting held in Entebbe, Uganda on 31 March, 2017.

    He was also, one of the first 3 lawyers in the history of Uganda to be inducted into the ULS inaugural ‘Roll of Honour.’ This award is given to lawyers who have distinguished themselves in the profession, have a proven track record of being excellent attorneys with stellar reputations and have also made significant contribution to jurisprudence or contributed to the development of a particular area in law.

    On 28 March, 2018, he was awarded the Special Rank of Senior Counsel (the highest honor in the legal fraternity) by the Chief Justice of Uganda, Hon. Bart Katureebe.


    Mr. Katende is a renaissance man: a playwright, artiste, director and producer. In 1977, he started a drama group, now known as “The Ebonies” which is the largest drama group in East Africa to-date. The group puts on lavish stage productions at their home, Theatre La Bonita, in Kampala and throughout Uganda. The group has re-defined cultural and educative entertainment in Uganda.

    Sample Professional Accolades

    Mr. Katende has been internationally recognized as one of the only two Senior Legal Statesmen in East Africa by

    Chambers and Partners Global Guide to the World’s Leading Lawyers

    Co-founding Partner, John Katende is a seasoned lawyer with a wealth of legal and business experience gathered over his many years of practice. He continues to utilize his knowledge and experience to benefit the Firm’s clients.”

    Chambers and Partners Global Guide to the World’s Leading Lawyers, 2024 Edition

    • In the 2020 Edition, it was stated that, co-founding partner John Katende is a highly respected individual in the Ugandan market with over 50 years’ experience. He continues to be consulted for advice on both corporate mandates and litigious proceedings.
    • In the 2019 Edition, it was observed that, ‘John Katende is considered “an important reference in the market” by sources. Noted for his vast experience in the corporate and commercial sphere, he also attracts noteworthy praise for his academic contributions to the sector.
    • In the 2018 Edition, it was observed that he is well regarded by his peers, who laud his “incredible” profile in the market. He is a seasoned corporate and transactional lawyer.
    • In the 2017 Edition, it was noted that he is a highly regarded and distinguished practitioner with a wealth of experience advising on corporate transactions and financing.
    • In the 2016 Edition, it was stated, ‘John Katende is “well respected” among peers for his extensive experience in financings, M&A and restructurings.’
    • The 2015 Edition noted that; ‘With over four decades of experience, managing partner John Katende is widely regarded as a doyen of Ugandan law.’
    • The 2014 Edition states that ‘John Katende is a ubiquitous figure in the Ugandan legal market, with decades of experience in litigation and non-contentious commercial issues.
    • The 2013 Edition remarked that ‘ The renowned John Katende can draw on more than 40 years of experience in litigation, and also works on non-contentious matters spanning the spectrum of corporate law.’
    • The 2012 Edition described Mr. Katende as one of the leading figures in the country with a source stating ‘I don’ t think there are any people working at that level of success in Uganda. He is very skilled at what he does.’
    • The 2011 Edition observed that ‘The Managing Partner John Katende brings over 40 years of experience to his corporate work.
    • In the 2010 Edition, the Guide stated that “Founding Partners John Katende and Edward Ssempebwa are ‘greatly esteemed by the legal fraternity.’ “
    • In the 2006 Edition, ‘Big ideas man’ John Katende was praised for being ‘exceptionally strong’ in corporate and commercial transactions.
    • In the 2004-2005 Edition, ‘Extremely shrewd’ Partner John Katende is highly regarded for his expertise in company law matters in Uganda, being the author of the leading textbook in East African Law Schools on company law. His clients include a number of foreign investors establishing and registering enterprises in Uganda. He is also an honorary Attorney General and Chief Legal Advisor to HM King Ronnie of Buganda.
    • In the 2003 Edition, it was stated that ‘interviewees name John Katende as an expert on Ugandan company law, whilst Edward Ssempebwa, Professor of Law at Makerere University, is an active litigator and advisor across the board. Their peers esteem them both for their substantial knowledge and experience.’
    • In the 2000-2001 Edition, it was noted that; John Katende has been involved in a lot of ground breaking and law creating litigation and has contributed significantly to the development of the law and its practice in Uganda. Outside the courtrooms, he is a leading practitioner in areas relating to business corporate and commercial law. He has been involved in the structuring and planning of many of the largest commercial ventures in Uganda and continues to  routinely advise leading commercial concerns in Uganda on a daily basis.

    IFLR 1000

    Ranked as a Star Transaction Lawyer by IFLR 1000: Guide to the World’s Leading Financial Law Firms: 

    In the 2023, 2022, 2021, 2020, 2019 and 2018 Editions of the IFLR 1000 – Guide to the World’s Leading Financial Law Firms, Mr. Katende is ranked as a ‘highly regarded‘ lawyer. In its 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011 & 2010 Editions, he is ranked as a leading transactional lawyer.

    Legal 500

    • John is ranked as a Leading Individual by the 2019 Edition of the Legal 500.
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