Dispute resolution in South Africa

Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr

Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr remains at the forefront of commercial litigation. It has a strong senior bench, including team head Tim FletcherRishaban Moodley and Eugene Bester. Executive consultants Pieter Conradie and Jonathan Witts-Hewinson remain key names in the department, with the former consistently leading on big-ticket cases. Kgosi Nkaiseng and Tim Smit are also noted, while associate Gareth Howard also impresses. Julian Jones joined Webber Wentzel in 2020.

Practice head(s):

Tim Fletcher

Testimonials

Attention to detail is fantastic with a very quick turn around time.

It has exceptional subject matter expertise, an understanding of the impact of litigation on business, and it is innovative and solution orientated.’

They are always coming up with innovative legal solutions.

Their size and scope makes them able to offer us a full service offering that is effective.’

Tim Fletcher is a stand-out litigator, who works with the client to achieve commercially sensible outcomes. His calm demeanour and steady hand ensures that matters proceed to a successful outcome.

Kgosi Nkaiseng is incredibly professional yet personable in his approach to his clients. He is always on the ball, just a phone call away and is quick to respond even when a query falls outside his area of expertise. His advice is always crisp and concise with little follow up explanations if required.

Tim Smit is an up and coming partner, who is committed to client outcomes.

Tim Smit treats each instruction with the highest efficiency, providing innovative solutions, having a genuine interest in the advancement of the client in providing a tailor made solution.’

Gareth Howard has been exceptional. Gareth is always courteous, friendly and professional. His attention to detail, professionalism and willingness to go far and beyond his call of duty has been impeccable.

Key clients

ArcelorMittal

Sasol

Vodacom

Barclays Bank

Old Mutual

PRASA

Lonmin

Work highlights

  • Defended Sasol Mining against former workers claiming damages for pneumoconiosis and chronic obstruction pulmonary disease.
  • Acted for Media24 in an application launched by the Centre for Child Law, and others, that seeks to extend the protection from identification applicable in criminal matters.
  • Acted for the Gauteng provincial government in a dispute with the concessionaire for the Gautrain rail system.

Norton Rose Fulbright South Africa Inc

Norton Rose Fulbright South Africa Inc has an exceptional track record for dispute resolution, traditionally in the insurance space, but this has expanded to a range of big-ticket commercial disputes, including those in the mining segment. Jeffrey Kron remains a major name in the market; Tony Chappel is a leader in professional indemnity and construction disputes; and André Vos is heading the firm's investigations and anti-corruption team. Consultant Michael Hart is another key member of the team.

Practice head(s):

Andrew Robinson

Testimonials

Jeffrey Kron is superb and knows what he is doing.

Key clients

Glencore Coal South Africa

Deloitte Netherlands

Truworths

KPMG Botswana

The Standard Bank of South Africa

Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA)

Office of the State Attorney and Eastern Cape Department of Health

Work highlights

  • Acted for Glencore Coal South Africa in an application to remove, relocate and resettle six families who lived within the mining rights area of Glencore Coal’s Goedgevonden Mine in Mpumalanga Province. 
  • Represented Deloitte Netherlands in disputes and claims connected with the collapse of Steinhoff.
  • Defended KPMG Botswana against a claim brought by the liquidator of failed bank Kingdom Bank Africa in a High Court action in Botswana.

Webber Wentzel

Webber Wentzel is a recognised leader in South Africa and is increasingly active in Africa-wide disputes, including international arbitrations. The firm has gained considerable recognition for its work in public law and judicial review cases, international arbitration and class actions. Trevor Versfeld and Stuart McCafferty consistently impress with Nick Alp noted for class actions. Kathryn Gawith is rated for professional liability, while Vlad Movshovich is a key name for commercial litigation and international arbitration. Priyesh Daya leads the dispute resolution practice and Sarah McKenzie is another name to note. Julian Jones joined from Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr in 2020.

Practice head(s):

Priyesh Daya

Testimonials

Diligent advice that is appropriately delivered on time and on point. The team is knowledgeable, reputable, responsive, attentive, has industry experts and a willingness to go the extra mile.

Priyesh Daya, partner, solution seeker taking into account value for money of the service, development of juniors. Garth Duncan, Senior Associate, practical, get rid of non issues, mentoring of juniors, value for money service.’

Vlad Movshovich is very competent, brilliant and a very difficult opponent.

Sarah McKenzie is amazing in terms of her client front-facing and her great advice.

Key clients

MTN Group

ABSA Bank

Tobacco Institute of South Africa

Grancy Property

Versatex Trading 500

Work highlights

  • Represented Cape Gate in various disputes with the Emfuleni Local Municipality.
  • Acted for the joint liquidators of the Small and Medium Enterprises Bank of Namibia in relation to a fraud on the part of SME Bank.
  • Acted for Absa Bank in class action proceedings brought by current and former shareholders of Steinhoff International.

Werksmans Attorneys

Werksmans Attorneys' dispute resolution practice is very much at the heart of the firm. It leads the market in key areas such as administrative and regulatory disputes, mining cases, telecoms litigation and international arbitration. David Hertz is universally regarded as a premier litigator, while Des Williams provides additional gravitas, including in the arbitration space. Corlett Manaka is an experienced figure in constitutional and administrative law cases and Bernard Hotz is noted for corporate investigations and business crime. Darren Willans is also rated.

Practice head(s):

Corlett Manaka

Testimonials

David Hertz is robust, direct and honest.

Key clients

Investec Bank

Naspers

Passenger Rail Agency

MTN

RMB Corvest

Industrial Development Corporation

FirstRand Bank

Sanlam

Telkom

Work highlights

  • Represented the South African Reserve Bank in review proceedings against the Public Protector.
  • Acted for the Public Investment Corporation in a claim relating to various zero coupon bonds issued by the local municipality of Madibeng.
  • Represented Mdluli Lodge Investments and others in opposing a final interdict sought by a community that was looking to stop the construction of a game lodge on property owned by the Mdluli Community.

Bowmans

Bowmans has an established dispute resolution team that has achieved further growth in corruption and corporate governance-related cases. Its caseload includes a significant proportion of cross-border disputes and class action litigation. Employment leader Chris Todd leads the team, which also includes Tim Gordon-GrantAdam Anderson and James McKinnell in Cape Town.

Practice head(s):

Chris Todd

Key clients

AB InBev

African Oxygen

Medical Protection Society

Old Mutual

RTT Group

Work highlights

  • Together with Kirkland & Ellis, acted for a consortium of bondholders of the Steinhoff Group in all ongoing litigation in South Africa with a specific focus on a class action and various other vendor claims that have been lodged against Steinhoff International.
  • Acted for Invicta and its subsidiaries in a challenge by the South African Revenue Services (SARS) of a structured finance transaction.
  • Defended KPMG South Africa against a number of headline legal challenges in the jurisdiction.

ENSafrica

ENSafrica's further growth in dispute resolution has centred on financial services and insurance cases, following the recent hire of Aslam Moosajee. The firm is at the forefront of class actions, including listeriosis claims. Constitutional and administrative law cases are another forte, notably with John Zieff to the fore. Sue Hayes and George van Niekerk lead the team, which includes Julia Ferraz-Cardoso and Deon Lambert. Armando Aguiar is an outstanding dispute resolution lawyer and advocate, while James Haydock is also rated.

Practice head(s):

Sue Hayes; George van Niekerk

Testimonials

ENSafrica has an established practice with a strong reputation for excellent work. We feel we are in safe hands. The team members are always available to assist and are extremely proactive.’

Julia Ferraz-Cardoso is excellent, fair, approachable and has a rounded personality.

Sue Hayes is a very competent litigator.

James Haydock is extremely knowledgeable and professional in everything he does. He is very proactive and well organised.

Key clients

Industrial Development Corporation

ABSA Bank

Tiger Brands

Lewis Stores

Veraison

IDC

Work highlights

  • Defended Tiger Brands in a class action arising from a listeriosis outbreak in South Africa.
  • Acted for Transnet Pensions Funds in a class action by the Transnet pensioners.
  • Represented FirstRand Bank in  its interactions with the judicial commission of inquiry into allegations of state capture and fraud in the public sector.

Allen & Overy (South Africa) LLP

Allen & Overy (South Africa) LLP is primarily known for banking litigation, insolvency and business rescue cases, and construction disputes. It is building its presence in cross-border cases, while continuing to be a key name in the South African market. Compliance and corporate investigations are a growth segment for the team. In Gerhard Rudolph it has a leading figure for both banking litigation and construction disputes, while counsel Callum O’Connor is noted for compliance and investigations.

Practice head(s):

Gerhard Rudolph

Testimonials

Excellent legal skills and vision particularly in cross border enforcement actions. Experienced in handling big ticket disputes on behalf of blue chip clients. Offers strength in depth.

Callum O’Connor is excellent to work with, measured and commercial.

Key clients

Anglo American

Aveng Africa

Electronic Toll Collection

Group Five Construction

Murray & Roberts

Mitsubishi Corporation

Nedbank

Work highlights

  • Represented Absa Bank in a series of court and arbitration cases arising out of a failed collective investment scheme managed by Corporate Money Managers.
  • Acted for Mitsubishi in the business rescue of Hernic and the proposed sale of Hernic’s ferrochrome production business to Samancor, including opposing urgent litigation proceedings aimed at frustrating the business rescue plan.
  • Represented an international bank as a defendant in an action launched by the Quaker Peace Centre, which seeks to set aside the government’s acquisition of 24 Hawk Lift aircraft and 28 Gripen Alfa jets from British Aerospace Systems.

Clyde & Co LLP

Clyde & Co LLP's highly reputable disputes team is recognised largely for insurance-related cases, which has led to a series of headline engagements, including those in the telecoms and IT sectors. Daniel Le Roux and Tony Hardie are outstanding names for insurance disputes. Construction cases are another forte for the firm. Warren Hiepner and Deon Francis are also rated and Athol Gordon is noted for medical malpractice cases.

Practice head(s):

Daniel Le Roux, Tony Hardie

Testimonials

Best expertise in the market. Very client focused. They take time to understand the client’s needs.

Unprecedented expertise and client focus. They have adapted their business model to ours and have become valuable business partners and not just service providers. What makes the disputes team at Clyde & Co unique is that they have so much depth in their insurance offering. Whether it’s a particular class of insurance work or corporate and regulatory insurance work, they are able to provide prompt and practical advice.

Their insurance knowledge is phenomenal. They are also excellent strategists who gain proper knowledge before making any recommendation.

Warren Hiepner’s integrity is outstanding. He will look after our company’s interest and his legal advice is spot on. He also treats customers fairly.

Deon Francis continues to impress us with his conscientious approach in getting the job done.

Athol Gordon is our preferred lawyer for dealing with complex problem solving.

Key clients

AIG South Africa

Santam

iTOO Special Risks

Hollard Group

Work highlights

  • Represented AIG South Africa in a reckless trading action against directors of a liquidated group of property development companies.
  • Acted for iTOO Special Risks in an action against Eskom, connected to damages suffered due to a fire.
  • Acted for the Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration of South Africa (the CCMA) to review and set aside a tender which it had awarded to Milestone Property Group for office premises on a lease in Cape Town.

Fasken

Fasken has an established record in administrative law disputes and is widely recognised for prominence in mining, construction and environmental disputes across Africa, especially Southern Africa. The team represents a number of regulatory bodies and is leveraging the firm's additional expertise in Canada. The firm hired business rescue and insolvency specialist Haroon Laher and a team from Hogan Lovells (South Africa)Nic RoodtRakhee Bhoora and Eric van den Berg are other key individuals.

Practice head(s):

Nic Roodt

Key clients

Sandvik

State Information Technology Agency

The National Commissioner of South African Police

Industrial Corrosion Protection Group of Companies

Work highlights

  • Represented Sandvik in an urgent application to the High Court to interdict a bank from paying out performance security pursuant to a call on the performance bond.
  • Defended a large agricultural sector business in a high court action for payment of monies allegedly owed to the claimant.
  • Acted for an IT support service provider in a dispute with a financial institution in connection with the duplication of payments and efforts to recover the duplicated payment.

Herbert Smith Freehills South Africa LLP

Herbert Smith Freehills South Africa LLP has a growing mix of commercial litigation, arbitration, corporate crime and investigations. In the investigations field, the team led by Cameron Dunstan-Smith is working closely with the firm's other offices, particularly London and New York, on major cross-border engagements. Jonathan Ripley-Evans is making an impression in international arbitration, including cases in the energy, mining and construction segments. Peter Leon is active in sub-Saharan Africa mining risk and regulation issues.

Practice head(s):

Jonathan Ripley-Evans; Peter Leon

Testimonials

This firm approaches matters in a different way to most law firms. Business outcomes and value added contributions are key drivers in all that this firm does and this is over and above the typical mere legalistic approach which many firms apply.

Jonathan Ripley-Evans and his associate Fiorella Noreiga Del Valle are both exceptional lawyers with a key strategic approach and keen eye for details. They apply key commercial considerations tailored to their clients and they are very strategic in their approach. They understand that the best legal outcome may not necessarily be the best commercial outcome and don’t let that cloud the advice given.

Key clients

CenPower Generation Company

Gartner

Vitol

Vesquin Trading

Sumitomo Corporation

Comsar Properties

Norilsk Nickel Africa

Work highlights

  • Acted for Cenpower Generation Company, the owner of the Kpone Independent Power Plant project in Ghana, in various disputes against Group Five Power International, the original contractor for the project.
  • Represented Gartner in its participation at the Nugent Commission of Inquiry into consultancy services provided to Sars regarding the restructuring of Sars’ IT systems.
  • Represented Vitol and Vesquin Trading in judicial review proceedings brought by the Central Energy Fund and the Strategic Fuel Fund Association.

Baker McKenzie Johannesburg

Baker McKenzie Johannesburg is noted for compliance and investigations, including related court proceedings. International arbitration is another key and growing element of the practice. Darryl Bernstein leads the team and John Bell is noted for insolvency, business rescue and public procurement cases.

Practice head(s):

Darryl Bernstein

Key clients

Concor Holdings

Greg Senior

Kudumane Manganese Resources

Rioglass South Africa

Thabametsi Power Company

Glendal Trading

Work highlights

  • Defended Concor Holdings in High Court proceedings brought against it and Southern Palace Group by Murray and Roberts.
  • Represented Kudumane Manganese Resources in High Court proceedings against Southern Ambition 1549 CC, Strata Africa Resources  and Munell in  a claim for unlawful expropriation of managanese.
  • Acted for Oracle Corporation South Africa in an alleged breach of contract claim brought by Tee Que Services.

Glyn Marais

Glyn Marais remains noted for commercial and real estate litigation. It continues to be engaged on big-ticket disputes and with the promotion of Robert January to director it now has a sizeable senior bench. Riaan du Plessis leads the team.

Practice head(s):

Riaan du Plessis

Testimonials

The department is commended for its knowledge, diversity, attention to detail, availability, the way in which the work is done and targets are met.

The team is professional and outcome driven.

Robert January is an awesome individual, takes pride in his work and ensures that all are on the same page. He understands his field of expertise.

Key clients

Growthpoint Limited 11 yrs No

Irene Charnley

BidTravel

Medtronic

Equity Diamond Cutting Works

Miganu Investments

Work highlights

  • Acting for Irene Charnley, the ex-director of MTN, in a cross-border dispute concerning the awarding of a GSM mobile licence in Iran.
  • Acted for The Ansha 2 Trust and Sharmaine Labuschagne in defending land use rights for the development of a super-regional shopping centre.
  • Represented Miganu Investment in defending s High Court action relating to the value of shares allegedly due under a black economic empowerment structure of Growthpoint.

Knowles Husain Lindsay Inc

Boutique litigation practice Knowles Husain Lindsay Inc is recommended for referral business, including claims against banks, along with constitutional and real estate cases. Ian LindsayErrol Knowles and Mohamed Husain are highly regarded.

Practice head(s):

Ian Lindsay; Errol Knowles; Mohamed Husain

Testimonials

Ian Lindsay is a straight shooter and very experienced.

Lawtons Africa

Lawtons Africa's team has separated from Hogan Lovells International LLP, but remains close to the global firm. It continues to impress in telecoms disputes, anti-competitive behaviour and regulatory cases, including before the Constitutional Court. Veronica Vurgarellis leads the team and Gary Pritchard is also highly rated.

Practice head(s):

Veronica Vurgarellis

Testimonials

The team is professional to the extreme. They are meticulous in all their dealings.’

The qualities that stand out is their ability to assess the situation and come forward with the best solution for their client. They are pragmatic, legally astute and client centric. They believe in coming up with the best solution for the client.

Veronica Vurgarellis is extremely professional and detailed. She understood the mandate quickly and decided on the most pragmatic and cost effective settlement on our behalf. She managed our opponents tactfully and showed them up legally on a number of occasions. It was a joy to watch how she outmaneuvered the opponents and forced them to a settlement.

Gary Pritchard avails himself beyond working hours in times of crisis. He gives well thought advice, knowledge and experience, which is exceptional.

Key clients

Telkom

Ford Motor Company (Manufacturing)

National Health Laboratory Services

Work highlights

  • Acted for Telkom in a case against the City of Cape Town over the power of municipalities to impose by-laws that conflict with national legislation.
  • Represented the Ford Motor Company Southern Africa Manufacturing in inquest proceedings in the Cape Town High Court.
  • Represented the National Health Laboratory Service on its investigation into a major listeriosis outbreak.