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Firms To Watch: Construction

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Construction in South Africa

Pinsent Masons LLP

At the forefront of construction in South Africa, Pinsent Masons LLP has an impressively large team and a broad range of expertise, spanning nuclear, offshore wind, solar, rail, waste and residential developments, both in South Africa and Africa more widely. The group is notably active in contentious and non-contentious (transactions and joint ventures) engagements, as well as contract management services and development projects for lenders, contractors and developers. Disputes expert Junaid Banoobhai and front-end construction lawyer Rob Morson are the practice heads. Jurg Van Dyk, Deirdre Simaan and Jason Smit are other key names.

Practice head(s):

Junaid Banoobhai; Rob Morson

Testimonials

‘Strong FIDIC experience in the team and excellent solutions for managing contract documentation.’

‘Pinsent Masons are construction industry specialists with a depth of resource backed up by their international footprint. Being focused on the construction industry differentiates it.’

‘Whilst being legal experts in their field, they balance this expertise with a sound knowledge of the commercial imperatives of their clients.’

‘Pinsent Masons have a passionate and energetic culture which is set by Rob Morson who certainly leads by example. Other partners who stand out for me are Andrew Fawcett, Jason Smit, Themba Chauke and Bavesh Pillay.’

‘Junaid Banoobhai and Themba Chauke have exceptional knowledge and lateral and innovative thinking and solutions.’

‘Rob Morson is a good sounding board and forthright, yet considered when asked for an opinion.’

‘Junaid Banoobhai is solid and efficient.’

‘Andrew Fawcett is very detailed and his arguments are well considered.’

‘Muhammed Somrey is very competent and considered.’

Key clients

ABB

Grinaker

GED Africa

Rio Tinto

Aveng

WBHO

Biotherm

Osborn Engineered Products

Profica Group

Hive Group

Egis Projects

Mainline Civil Engineering

Siemens Group

Veolia

Stanlib

Work highlights

  • Acting for Rand Merchant Bank on a project for the construction of a liquid bulk petroleum storage facility and ancillary works, which caters for the receipt by vessel, storage and then distribution by road and/or vessel of petroleum products.
  • Advising Grupo Cobra – Dankocom on all post-construction aspects of a project financed concentrated solar power plant constructed in South Africa.
  • Advising Kuvaninga Energia on aspects relating to the appointment of a new operator for the gas-fired power plant in Mozambique, as well as relating to the performance of some upgrades to the plant.

Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr

Clive Rumsey  heads the construction group at Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr and has considerable experience of contentious construction mandates and construction insurance. The practice is also noted for its strong cross-border capabilities, handling matters internationally, as well as its strong front-end renewable energy offering. The firm's merger with Nairobi-based boutique law firm Kieti in April 2021 has further strengthened its offering to East African clients. Joe Whittle and Timothy Baker remain strong in construction-related disputes. Renowned practitioner Andrew van Niekerk  joined the firm in late 2021 from Bowmans. Emma Dempster left the firm.

Practice head(s):

Clive Rumsey

Other key lawyers:

Kyle BowesJoe Whittle; Timothy Baker; Andrew van Niekerk

Testimonials

‘While the firm is big and the practice supports a number of clients, they manage to make you feel like you are getting their individual and undivided attention. This generates trust in the advice provided and fosters an enabling working environment.’

‘Clive Rumsey is always available and up to date on what our matters entail. He is proactive and technically very skilled. I have always valued his personalised approach and clear application of skill.’

‘Kyle always provides detailed support services to the instruction. In touch with the issues and his knowledgeability is appreciated.’

Key clients

Sasol Limited

Scatec Solar

Industrial Development Corporation of South Africa

Public Investment Corporation

Sasol Limited

Scatec Solar

Industrial Development Corporation of South Africa

Public Investment Corporation

ENSafrica

ENSafrica is adept at handling both contentious and non-contentious, front-end construction mandates for clients across the entire developmental stages of construction projects. The team is particularly active in mining, energy, infrastructure and engineering developments in South Africa and further afield. Project development expert Loren Tibshraeny leads the team alongside dispute resolution specialist Armando Aguir. Rob Scott is also of note with expertise in construction and engineering insurance.

Other key lawyers:

Rob Scott

Testimonials

‘Good availability, accessibility and attention to detail.’

‘We always enjoy when ENS refers to ‘our’ position rather than ‘your’ position in conversation – it shows that ENS are invested. We appreciate the collaborative nature of the team – they are willing to consider the complexities, the goals of the organisation and aim to find solutions that fit our unique position.’

‘Access to the team and specialists within the firm.’

Key clients

EDF Renewables

Powerchina Huadong Engineering Corporation

Namibian Power Corporation

QKR Namibia Navachab Gold Mine

Scatec Solar Africa

Infinity Energy S.A.E

Eskom SOC Ld

Bombardier African Alliance

Clarion Investments 49

General and Professional Liability Acceptances

ABSA Bank

Industrial Development Corporation of South Africa

Bio2Watt

Lepidico Chemicals Namibia

Shkawe Land Bobonong Solar PV

Goldwind Africa Holdings

KC Cottrell Co.

HF Consulting Engineers

Kalagadi Manganese

Development Bank of Southern Africa

Lombard Insurance Company

Passenger Rail Agency Of South Africa

AnglogoldAshanti

Kalyan Hospitality Development Togo SA

Work highlights

  • Advising EDF Renewables Pty Ltd on the development, construction and operation of a solar photovoltaic power generation plant with a capacity of approximately 138MWdc, 30MW x 3.5 hours battery energy storage system and 6 MWe thermal reciprocating engines generation plant.
  • Advising Powerchina Huadong Engineering Corporation as a member of an unincorporated joint venture appointed as the contractor in respect of the development, construction and operation of a solar photovoltaic power generation plant with a capacity of approximately 75MW, 450MWh battery energy storage system, and 2 diesel generation engines.
  • Advising NamPower on the development, construction and operation of the Otjikoto Biomass Power Station.

Norton Rose Fulbright

Tony Chappel chairs the construction department at Norton Rose Fulbright South Africa Inc, which advises clients throughout the entire process of large-scale infrastructure, energy and natural resources projects. The team handles procurement, structuring and development strategies and the negotiation and preparation of contracts, as well as providing post-contract support and representation in disputes.  Multi-jurisdictional transactions are also within the group’s capabilities for its varied client roster which includes institutional investors, project sponsors, developers, occupiers, contractors and financiers. Matthew Ash focuses his practice on energy and infrastructure projects. Construction and engineering law specialist Gary Rademeyer and litigator Sentebale Makara are other key names.

Practice head(s):

Tony Chappel 

Key clients

Wärtsilä Corporation OY

The Energy Group

Ngodwana Energy

Harith General Partners

African Carbon Energy

Karoshoek Solar One

Veolia Water Solutions and Technologies

Work highlights

  • Advised African Carbon Energy Proprietary Limited on its bid submission in response to the Department of Energy’s Risk Mitigation IPP Procurement Programme.
  • Advising The Energy Group on the TEG Consol Gas Pipelines Project, being the construction and operation of gas supply pipelines to Consol facilities at Clayville, Wadeville, and Nigel.
  • Advised WSP on its fee claim, assisted it in writing various letters to the developer and to the contractor, in discussing tactics, in arranging meetings and eventually in assisting the client to settle the fee claim favourably.

Webber Wentzel

The construction team at Webber Wentzel handles the entire life cycle of projects spanning across Sub-Saharan Africa. Mining capital projects are a core area of strength for the group, as well as representing infrastructure clients, such as concessionaires, contractors and consulting engineers. In addition, energy-related mandates and oil and gas engagements are increasing areas of focus for the group. Tyron Theessen leads the team and Sarah McKenzie is also of note in the disputes space. Alessandra Pardini left the firm.

Practice head(s):

Tyron Theessen

Other key lawyers:

Sarah McKenzie

Testimonials

‘Their depth and breadth of their knowledge and experience is unsurpassed.’

‘Through their in-depth knowledge they are on the cutting edge of the construction law which leads to innovative ideas and pragmatic solutions.’

‘Billing is as per our SLA and delivered on time and supported by comprehensive billing narratives.’

‘Webber Wentzel’s IT and technology availability is world class.’

‘Collaborative, empathetic, supportive yet when leadership is required they are not shy to express their views.’

‘Solid professional delivery of the service, on time and on budget.’

‘The team provides a professional service, high quality advice and is always available to assist in any matter. The team demonstrates an understanding on how the construction sector operates and its main challenges.’

‘Tyron Theessen is not only pleasant to work with, but is also very knowledgeable on how construction and renewable energies sector in South Africa operates. He is keen to assist, showing commitment and taking fully responsibility for all legal issues. He is always very professional, intellectually rigorous (as required for complex construction law matters) and approachable.’

Key clients

Khoemacau Copper Mining

Oil Tanking Mogs Saldanha

Nordex Energy

Astron Energy

Framatome

Rejem Linton Netcare JV

Anglo American

Green Hydrogen Project

Valley Irrigation SA

Valmont Irrigation of Southern Africa

Nordex Energy South African

Windlab

Work highlights

  • Advising Khoemacau on the development of its underground mining operations, the transmission line infrastructure required to supply power to the mine, an alternative power supply solution including renewable energy, a laboratory for testing of ore, and its tailing storage facility.  
  • AdvisedFramatome and Eskom Holdings SOC on entering a contract for the design, manufacture, transportation, installation and commissioning of six replacement steam generators worth almost ZAR 5bn.
  • Acting for both OTMS and Astron on the development of a connecting pipeline and related infrastructure to tie-in Astron’s refinery to OTMS’ crude oil storage facility in Saldanha Bay.

Allen & Overy (South Africa) LLP

Allen & Overy (South Africa) LLP is well placed to handle multi-jurisdictional mandates in the construction and engineering arena due to the international nature of the firm. Construction-related dispute resolution is a core focus for the team, being a part of the wider contentious practice. Clients include developers, contractors and sub-contractors, purchasers, tenants and funds. Gerhard Rudolph heads the department with particular expertise in contentious construction matters in the energy, mining and infrastructure sectors. Michelle Porter-Wright and Kate Daniels are other names to note.

Practice head(s):

Gerhard Rudolph

Testimonials

‘Members of the team are very personable and easy to work with. They are hugely experienced, capable and hard working.’

‘I would say the greatest strength is that the team is extremely commercially minded.’

‘Clients receive robust advice very early on and the most commercially sensible route will follow.’

‘Gerhard Rudolph has great experience, legal knowledge and understanding of our business.’

‘Both Kate Daniels and Michelle Porter-Wright immerse themselves completely in the matter, leaving no stone unturned. They try to fully understand the issues involved in each matter.’

‘Gerhard Rudolf is commercially minded and great at negotiation. Gerhard sets the tone for the rest of the team in terms of a slick, professional service provided without any stuffiness.’

‘Michelle Porter-Wright: her knowledge of the relevant law is exceptional – she keeps abreast of both South African and English cases in her area. Her knowledge of the detail of the cases she conducts is impressive – for example, the technical engineering issues and delay analysis. At the same time, whilst close to the detail, she never loses sight of the overarching merits of a case and the commercial requirements of the client.’

‘Rob Thackwell is a pleasure to work with. He is hard working, very organised and takes ownership of cases and issues that he is asked to deal with. Always pleasant and well-prepared. Very commercial, great at the client-facing role and hard working.’

Key clients

Aveng Group

ABB South Africa

Anglo American Group

Group Five

Metis Strategic Advisors

Trans Caledon Tunnel Authority

Concor Projects

Nokia Solutions and Networks

Actom

Murray & Roberts

Ivanhoe Mines Limited

Work highlights

  • Representing Group Five Construction in resolving a number of discreet construction issues and disputes in the context of the ongoing implementation of the business rescue plan and envisaged orderly wind-down.
  • Representing Aveng in cross-border litigation against Stalker Hutchison Admiral, Santam, Global Alliance Mozambique, and Aon South Africa.
  • Representing Group Five Construction in a dispute against Exxaro Coal relating to the Grootegeluk Coal Mine GG6 Expansion Project in South Africa.

Bowmans

Bowmans has a strong contentious and front-end practice with a focus on the energy sector as well as manufacturing, mining, real estate, transport, telecoms and utilities. The group advises clients throughout the entire lifecycle of construction projects, from development to financing and disputes. Its broad client portfolio includes employers, contractors, developers and purchasers and extends across South Africa and other African countries, such as Zimbabwe, Kenya and Mozambique. Front-end construction lawyer Stephanie McDonald chairs the department and Lize- Meré Ludick and Gordon Rushton are key names on the contentious side. Andrew van Niekerk and Tumisang Mongae left the firm.

Practice head(s):

Stephanie McDonald

Testimonials

‘Wide spectrum of services and local staff is supported by international experts where required.’

‘They will go beyond what is expected.’

‘Very skilled team.’

‘Gordon Rushton is an expert and deeply knowledgeable of South African laws.’

Key clients

Zimborders Limited

MSC Cruises SA

Elkem Ferroveld

ZARA Retail South Africa

Hass-Consortium-GVR Infra Limited of Kenya

Stanbic Bank Kenya

Caledonia Mining Corporation

NovaSource Power Services

Work highlights

  • Acting for an international company in the aerospace, transportation and defence space in significant claims for delays experienced and additional costs incurred on a major railway infrastructure project.
  • Advising MSC Cruises on all construction aspects of a major project to develop a new cruise terminal and marine infrastructure at the Port of Durban.
  • Advising Caledonia Mining on all aspects of the design, construction, operation and maintenance of a 12 MW solar power plant at the Blanket gold mine in Zimbabwe.

Fasken

The construction team at Fasken is jointly headed by Tania Siciliano, who handles the contentious matters, and Ashen Jugoo, who handles the non-contentious, front-end mandates. The firm acts for domestic and international clients, including project financiers, sponsors, construction contractors and concessionaires. Areas of focus for the group include infrastructure, energy and mining-related construction matters, and it handles front-end matters including the drafting and negotiating of agreements, as well as representing clients during dispute resolution and contentious procedures. Dispute resolution specialist Nic Roodt and energy, mining and infrastructure expert Blaize Vance are also key members of the team.

Practice head(s):

Tania SicilianoAshen Jugoo

Other key lawyers:

Nic RoodtBlaize Vance

Testimonials

‘The firm’s treatment of matters referred to it is super, urgent and collaborative.’

‘Easy to approach, collaborative, thorough, detailed information yet easy to understand. The level of research on matters referred to it is very good.’

Key clients

ACWA Power

Investec Bank

Nedbank

GE Steam Power S&E Africa

Tiefenthaler Attorneys

Tiefenthaler Attorneys is a highly experienced construction, mining and engineering boutique. The group handles contentious and non-contentious mandates in South Africa, with an increasing focus on cross-border matters as well. In addition to its dispute resolution capabilities, the practice is also adept at front-end negotiations and drafting of contracts. The team is jointly led by Martin van der SchyfDeonn FourieRyan du Preez and Paul Woodward.

Adams & Adams

Construction is a growing area of strength for Adams & Adams and the team has a particular focus on contentious mandates, representing a vast array of contractors and developers. Grégor Wolter and Jac Marais jointly head the team from Pretoria..

Practice head(s):

Grégor Wolter; Jac Marais

Key clients

City of Cape Town Metropolitan Municipality

Primat Construction

Cadcon

Atterbury Property Holdings

Kharafi Holdings

Efkon South Africa

Lombardy Developments

AL Mphago Civil Construction

Turnover Trading

Get Connected Construction

Work highlights

  • Acting for the City of Cape Town in a multimillion-rand dispute for follow on damages arising from collusion between three major construction firms for the construction of the Cape Town World Cup Stadium for the 2010 Soccer World Cup.
  • Acting for Primat Construction in a roads construction dispute with the Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality.
  • Acting for Cadcon in a multi-jurisdictional dispute regarding the construction of a paint shop in East London for a well-known German motor vehicle manufacturer.