Legal market overview
Ivory Coast is an increasingly pivotal legal market in Africa. It has a comparatively well-developed and sophisticated legal profession, buoyed by a range of substantial international projects and cross-border transactions. The African Development Bank recently returned its headquarters to the country’s capital Abidjan, having relocated to Tunisia during the Ivorian civil war. With a thriving commercial and financial sector, the jurisdiction is becoming a hub for the surrounding region.
International firm Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP announced in October 2014 that it was to launch an affiliated branch in Abidjan, becoming the first international law firm to open an office in the country with a focus on matters throughout the region, including Gabon, Senegal and Mali.
Bilé-Aka, Brizoua-Bi & Associés is a ‘very dynamic’ and ‘modern’ firm with a fine reputation and expertise ‘across different sectors of activity’. It has ‘good connections abroad’, especially in Central and West Africa, notably in the Francophone states. The firm is highly rated in M&A, as well as project finance and development, and has a practice extending to other key areas such as restructurings, tax and disputes. Joachim Bilé-Aka is a prominent figure within the local legal profession, especially in the context of dispute resolution. Michel Brizoua-Bi is recommended for cross-border M&A and projects, particularly in the mining and telecoms industries.
FDKA has a strong reputation in the domestic and international markets. Much credit should go to the widely praised Karim Fadika, who is a frequent adviser on major energy, mining or other project financings, as well as M&A. He operates to an ‘international level and standards’ and is ‘always at the table’ on major projects. The firm also has a fine record in dispute resolution and is a member of the Africa Business & Legal Expertise network.
Cabinet Hoegah & Etté is another prominent firm, both domestically and internationally. The broad nature of the practice covers corporate law and M&A, banking, employment, tax and disputes. The firm also has an impressive record in the mining industry. Theodore Hoegah is an experienced figure in cross-border M&A and is a tax expert. Michel Etté is also recommended for multi-jurisdictional matters as well as disputes.
Cabinet Jean-François Chauveau is a ‘go-to firm’ for major projects. It is renowned internationally, having worked on many of the large project financings in the country over the years in the oil and gas sector and transport infrastructure. Jean-François Chauveau is highly regarded internationally, particularly in France where he is qualified to practise, and he is well connected among the leading law firms in Paris.
SCPA Dogue – Abbé YAO & Associés is a ‘very good firm’ that is well known throughout Africa. The ‘very competent’ team handles corporate and commercial work, financings, projects and securities transactions. Abbé Yao is recommended for this type of work as well as dispute resolution, while Seydou Zerbo is a standout figure in oil and gas, M&A, finance and capital markets. The firm is a member of the international legal network Lex Mundi and has a close association with Gide, the French firm which has a substantial focus on Africa itself.
Anyray & Partners has a strong regional presence with offices in Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Niger and Togo. The firm is prominent in corporate and tax matters through Ika Raymond Any-Gbayere, who is a recognised tax specialist and former senior tax consultant at PwC. The firm is also recognised for its expertise in telecoms and intellectual property.
IKT & Associés is a young firm established in 2009 but has achieved a prominent standing since then, particularly in finance and structured finance where it represents a range of foreign lenders, including development finance institutions and several European commercial lenders. It also has a burgeoning presence in M&A, projects, employment law and dispute resolution. Osther Henri Tella is well regarded for finance work. Annick Imboua-Niava and Hermann Kouao are the other two partners.
KSK Société d’Avocats is another prominent young firm. Launched in 2008, it has impressed in a variety of fields including mining law, corporate and M&A, tax, and intellectual property. Dispute resolution is another key sector for the firm, as is project finance and development. It has worked on many of the landmark projects in the jurisdiction. Zinda Sawadogo is a project finance expert, with strong experience in the mining and energy sectors. Georges Angaman Kouadio is recommended for corporate and tax advice.
N’Goan Asman & Associés has a range of experience, including cross-border transactions in the mining and energy industries. Georges N’Goan and César Asman have a strong record in commercial matters.