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Ivory Coast

Ivory Coast > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings

Legal market overview

Ivory Coast has a dynamic and diversified economy, driven to a large extent by agriculture; in addition to being the world’s leading exporter of cocoa beans, the country’s coffee, bananas and palm oil are also key exports for the jurisdiction. The nation, including its capital Abidjan, is the centre of Organisation pour l'Harmonisation en Afrique du Droit des Affaires (OHADA), a harmonized business law environment that exists across 17 West and Central African states. OHADA’s Common Court of Justice and Arbitration (CCJA) is based in Abidjan and the city is also becoming the main centre for arbitration for this group of states.

Abidjan is widely considered to have the most sophisticated legal market in OHADA with many of its most senior practitioners having trained or practised in Paris and elsewhere. With its strategically important position, its top lawyers have become much in demand.

Bilé-Aka, Brizoua-Bi & Associés is one of the most established names in Ivory Coast, having credibility across Francophone Africa and benefitting from its membership of the Eversheds Africa Law Institute, a network of African firms created by the UK’s Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP. The firm is also at the forefront of the African Business Law Firms Association (ABLFA), an association of firms established by the African Development Bank. The group is noted for its international connections, especially international banks and development finance institutions (DFIs), and Michel Brizoua-Bi is one of the biggest names in the jurisdiction, exhibiting a strong track record in multiple practice areas including projects, oil and gas, mining, M&A, financings and telecoms. Joachim Bilé-Aka is recommended for dispute resolution and has an equally formidable reputation.

FDKA is universally acclaimed by local and international firms, thanks to its pre-eminence in big-ticket projects, including energy, infrastructure and public private partnership (PPP) initiatives. The group handles a high volume of significant projects and is also noted for its expertise in export finance, corporate and M&A, insolvency and bankruptcy proceedings, oil and gas, telecoms and dispute resolution. Karim Fadika has an outstanding reputation and is in much demand thanks to his knowledge of the regulatory environment and his connections in Ivory Coast and the OHADA nations. In 2017, the firm joined Lex Africa, the alliance of African law firms.

Cabinet Hoegah & Etté remains a market leader in tax, thanks to the presence of the eminent Theodore Hoegah, who is also noted for his expertise in mining, especially his knowledge of the regulatory environment in that sector. Telecoms and oil and gas are also key sectors for the firm, which has an impressive international profile. In the dispute resolution field, Michel Etté has extensive court experience.

Cabinet Jean-François Chauveau’s Jean-François Chauveau remains an eminent figure in the local legal market, having trained many of the most prominent lawyers in the community and continuing to be engaged in numerous big projects in Ivory Coast and the OHADA nations; he ‘has been on the ground for years’ and is also known to have strong connections in the Paris legal market. The firm is active in energy (including renewables), oil and gas, mining, and infrastructure.

KSK Société d'Avocats is recognised as a market leading firm, having carved out a significant market share of big-ticket projects engagements, including PPPs; it has especially strong public law credentials. The team has attracted an impressive client base of local and international corporates and a range of noteworthy banks. Finance, M&A, tax and restructurings are also key practice areas. Zinda Sawadogo is well respected in the local and international legal community. Georges Angaman Kouadio is multi-skilled, covering contentious and non-contentious tax, corporate and mining matters. Kouamé Klemet is a leader in public law.

SCPA DOGUE - Abbé YAO & Associés is another of the longer established firms in Abidjan, covering corporate and M&A, financing, projects, capital markets and other key practice areas. Abbé Yao has ‘a world of knowledge on regulations’ and is praised for his experience and expertise in both transactions and contentious matters. Seydou Zerbo is widely recognised for oil and gas work.

Anyray & Partners continues to be recognised for its tax expertise with Ika Raymond Any-Gbayere having a strong background in this area. The firm is active in corporate and finance transactions, often those involving complex tax structuring. Aviation, oil and gas, and telecoms are key industry sectors for the firm, which advises a number of foreign multinationals, including Anadarko Petroleum, China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), Dow Chemicals, General Electric and Total.

IKT & Associés is another versatile practice, best known for its financing expertise and advice on transactions for international banks and DFIs. Projects, PPP, M&A and employment are also key areas for the firm, which boasts a range of contentious and non-contentious expertise. Osther Henri Tella is the senior name in the firm, with Annick Imboua-Niava and Hermann Kouao completing the partnership ranks.

C.L.K.A. remains active in corporate, tax and regulatory work. It advises a number of foreign companies on establishing subsidiaries in Ivory Coast and complements this with noted expertise and experience in tax and customs work. The firm has made an impression in the regulatory field, both in terms of helping government entities to develop regulatory frameworks and in advising foreign multinationals on regulatory and compliance issues in Ivory Coast and the OHADA nations. The group recently advised a leading American global payments and technology company on the employment, tax and corporate law aspects of its incorporation in Ivory Coast. It also advised an EPC Spanish contractor that specialises in the cement industry on its incorporation in Ivory Coast. On the contentious side, the team represented the West African Interbanking Monetic Consortium in arbitration proceedings against several international companies before OHADA’s CCJA. The firm is praised for its ‘industriousness’ in tackling engagements, with Lassiney Camara commended for his ‘sound knowledge of commercial law’, ‘impressive analytical mind’, ‘strength of character’ and ‘commendable passion for his job’.

Cadiciss is recommended for energy, infrastructure and project finance. The firm is headed by French and English qualified Myriam Carius, a former Magic Circle lawyer who maintains strong connections in London and Paris. Carius represents a number of DFIs, sponsors and borrowers.

Lex Ways is commended for litigation, having handled a series of notable cases over the years. Soualiho Lassomann Diomande is a prominent litigator and arbitration counsel in the jurisdiction and Ibrahima Bah is noted for M&A and financings.

Orrick RCI, the Abidjan-based associate office of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP has developed a strong practice in energy and infrastructure, with a particular focus on renewables, especially solar energy; Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP is the first and so far only international firm to establish an associate office in the jurisdiction, operating as a hub for Ivory Coast and the OHADA nations, including Mali, Burkina Faso, Democratic Republic of Congo and Gabon. The group handles a mix of project finance and project development work, while also building its presence in the oil and gas, mining and real estate sectors. The office frequently collaborates with others in the international firm’s network, including Paris and London. It advised Azito Energie, the project company, and sponsors Globeleq and IPS on Azito Phase IV, the 250MW expansion of a gas-fired power plant in Ivory Coast. Sydney Domoraud-Operi has developed an impressive record in energy and oil and gas transactions, working alongside Karamoko Fadiga, who is a key name in banking and finance and energy projects, and colleagues in Paris and London.

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