Dispute resolution in South Africa

Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr

Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr has an outstanding record in landmark and precedent setting cases along with a steady flow of big-ticket dispute engagements. The practice spans commercial litigation, international arbitration, mediation, and white-collar crime and forensic investigations. TMT, energy and natural resources and financial services are key sectors for the department. The senior team features the likes of department head Tim Fletcher, financial services sector disputes specialist Eugene Bester and Rishaban Moodley. Executive consultants Pieter Conradie and Jonathan Witts-Hewinson continue to be active contributors to the success of the practice; Conradie in particular, is leading a number of major cases for the firm. Business rescue specialist Julian Jones joined Webber Wentzel in 2020.

Practice head(s):

Tim Fletcher

Other key lawyers:

Eugene Bester; Rishaban Moodley; Pieter Conradie; Jonathan Witts-Hewinson; Kgosi Nkaiseng; Tim Smit; Gareth Howard; Lucinde Rhoodie

Testimonials

‘They are able to quickly synthesise and understand complex commercial disputes and identify practical and pragmatic solutions and dispute management options. They communicate well but keep their cool under pressure.’

‘The firm is user friendly in that they are easily and readily accessible as well as approachable.’

‘Tim Fletcher is experienced and adapted well to the ever-changing circumstances to resolve our commercial dispute. He worked well with other experts. He was easily reachable which is very important with these issues, and clear in his communication of facts.’

‘Tim Fletcher is a calm and measured advisor that as a client you want on your side. Tim knows when to be aggressive, when to be conciliatory and is always focused on achieving a beneficial outcome.’

‘Eugene Bester is always willing to go the extra mile and the quality of his work is excellent.’

‘The stand out partner is Tim Smit. He is very knowledgeable, open and frank. His response times are great and he always has invaluable input to complex problems.’

‘Kgosi Nkaiseng has a great blend of experience and skill, while being able to provide solutions to many complex situations.’

‘Gareth Howard is a super professional. Always friendly and understanding. He ensure his pleadings and other submissions are of the highest standard. He comes across very eloquently and is well spoken.’

‘Lucinde Rhoodie is an exceptional lawyer. She always immediately grasps the key issues and is meticulous in analysing the options with a very astute sense of which option will lead to the best result. Her calm demeanour is invaluable in high pressure situations and makes her an excellent negotiator.’

Key clients

ArcelorMittal

Sasol

Vodacom

Barclays Bank

Old Mutual

PRASA

Lonmin

Advtech Ltd

Norton Rose Fulbright

Norton Rose Fulbright has a background in insurance litigation, though maintains a substantial team that operates across the dispute resolution space. Moreover it offers dispute resolution teams in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban, while being able to tap into the firm's global network for cross-border cases. While remaining at the forefront of commercial litigation, it has achieved further prominence in investigations and anti-corruption, along with international arbitration. Jeffrey Kron is a seasoned litigator with a tremendous record in big-ticket disputes. Former firm South Africa CEO Donald Dinnie has returned to the firm from senior roles outside private practice, providing further firepower in the insurance segment. Tony Chappel is noted for construction and professional negligence disputes, and Andre Vos for investigations and anti-corruption matters.

Practice head(s):

Brent Botha; Andrew Robins; Andrè Vos; Tony Chappel; Craig Woolley; David Kapelus; Murray Alexander; Malcolm Hartwell; Liesl Williams

Other key lawyers:

Jeffrey Kron; Donald Dinnie

Key clients

Members of Parakou Shipping Group

South African Marine Insurance Market : mv APL Austria

Seguradora Internacional de Mocambique, S.A.R.L (and other Insurers of mv Macuti)

Members of Yara Group

Airports Company South Africa SOC Limited

Deloitte Netherlands (DNL)

KPMG Botswana

Vedanta Resources Holdings Ltd.

MD Anderson Service Corporation

Rebosis Property Fund Limited

MEB Energy

Chubb Insurance South Africa Limited on behalf of its insured JSE listed private hospital group

Work highlights

  • Advising Deloitte Netherlands in relation to South African law issues arising out of the Steinhoff collapse and scandal.
  • Advised Vedanta Resources Holdings Limited in an interim injunction against a foreign entity domiciled out of South Africa, in a first of its kind court application in South Africa, granted at a stage before the arbitral tribunal had been constituted.
  • Advised Rebosis Property Fund Ltd in review proceedings brought by the SIU.

Webber Wentzel

Webber Wentzel significantly reinforced its insurance litigation credentials by hiring a four-partner team from Norton Rose Fulbright led by Maria Philippides. Moreover, it substantially bolstered its standing in business rescue and insolvency with the recruitment of Julian Jones from Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr. The firm continues to be at the forefront of headline cases, including class actions in the mining industry. It is making a further impression in business crimes and investigations, cyber-crime cases and international arbitration. Trevor Versfeld has fantastic record in big-ticket cases, as does Nick Alp, notably in class action cases. Vlad Movshovich is gaining considerable market recognition along with emerging talent Sarah McKenziePriyesh Daya leads the group and is noted for cross-border disputes. Stuart McCafferty retired from the partnership in February 2020 but remains a consultant to the firm; he remains close to key client MTN and continues to be strategically involved in a number of class action cases.

Practice head(s):

Priyesh Daya

Other key lawyers:

Stuart McCafferty; Trevor Versfeld; Nick Alp; Vlad Movshovich; Sarah McKenzie; Julian Jones; Maria Philippides; Kathryn Gawith; Dario Milo

Testimonials

‘The practice is generally very responsive and attends to matters with the efficiency required by each circumstance. The practice is also excellent in handling matters with sensitivity when required and makes an effort to align with our requirements of work being completed at the right level with meaningful utilisation of junior lawyers.’

I find the team to be very proactive and willing to find solutions within the boundaries we have prescribed.’

‘Priyesh Daya is a very practical litigator with a keen focus on his clients’ operations.’

Key clients

Absa Bank

MTN Group

Anglo American

Cape Gate

Aquila Resources and Aquila Steel

Minaco

Deloitte & Touché

Naspers

Consol Glass

BCL Limited and BCL Investments

Palabora Copper

Gijima Holdings

SA Airlink / South African Airways

Framatome

Work highlights

  • Represented MTN Group in defending a claim made against it by the major Turkish mobile operator, Turkcell Illetsim Hizmetleri as a result of MTN’s alleged improper and unlawful interference in the award of the first private GSM licence in of Iran.
  • Acted for Deloitte in a disciplinary hearing conducted by the Independent Regulatory Board for Auditors in relation to the audit of the 2013 annual financial statements of African Bank Investment  and African Bank.
  • Represented Baker Hughes in a cross-border dispute with a contactor in Pemba, Mozambique.

Werksmans Attorneys

Werksmans Attorneys has an outstanding record in domestic and cross-border litigation and arbitration. The firm's commitment to dispute resolution has resulted in it achieving additional prominence in specific areas such as business crimes and investigations, constitutional and administrative law and tax disputes. It has landed a series of headline engagements in the constitutional and administrative law field. Chairman of the firm David Hertz is widely regarded as one of the premier litigators in South Africa, while Des Williams provides further senior-level gravitas in litigation and international arbitration. Department head Corlett Manaka is well-regarded for constitutional and administrative law, having represented clients in a series of landmark cases.

Practice head(s):

Corlett Manaka

Other key lawyers:

David Hertz; Des Williams; Bernard Hotz; Darren Willans; Sarah Passmoor

Testimonials

‘Agile, quick turn-around times and very knowledgeable. Capable of bridging the litigation and commercial gaps and aspects of the matter with ease.’

‘Darren Willans and Sarah Passmoor partnered with us to provide precise and clear advice and assistance. The matter was run efficiently and professionally.’

Key clients

South African Reserve Bank

Public Investment Corporation

National Energy Regulator of South Africa

Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa

DBT Thermal

Mr Scott

Citiq Meter Solutions (Pty) Ltd

Red Ant Relocation and Eviction Services

SGB Africa

Firstrand Bank Limited

Beka Schreder (Pty) Ltd

Cape Grace Hotel (Pty) Ltd

Mobile Telephone Networks (Pty) Ltd

Satvest Limited

Work highlights

  • Advised and represented the Prudential Authority of the South African Reserve Bank in an application launched by the former treasurer of the ANC Limpopo Province, who was seeking an order to review and set aside the recommendations contained in the report into the affairs of VBS Mutual Bank (‘VBS’) which found that there were serious financial irregularities to the tune of approximately ZAR 2.5 billion.
  • Represented the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa in a pending application to review and set aside the allegedly corrupt award of a tender for the installation of speed access gates and related security equipment involving in excess of ZAR 6 Billion.
  • Represented the South African Reserve Bank in review proceedings against the public protector relating to the highly publicised findings of the public protector report into the alleged failure to recover misappropriate funds.

Bowmans

Bowmans operates a sizeable team spread across its Johannesburg and Cape Town offices. The department is split into highly specialised groups, focused on key areas such as commercial disputes, class action cases, restructuring litigation and shareholder disputes. Public law cases are another forte for the team and international arbitration is another growth area. Tim Gordon-Grant is highly rated for big-ticket commercial disputes, Adam Anderson is noted for class actions and Cape Town's James McKinnell is recognised for restructuring-related and financial services cases. Employment disputes specialist Chris Todd leads the team.

Practice head(s):

Chris Todd

Other key lawyers:

im Gordon-Grant; Adam Anderson; James McKinnell

Testimonials

‘The team is multi-disciplinary in that each member brings in his/her specialty. They have a unique ability to work as a team while making in-house legal advisors an integral part of the team.’

‘The team was very firm in protecting the interests of the client, even where it risked their own popularity as a law firm. ’

Key clients

AB InBev (South African Breweries)

Brite Advisors South Africa

De Beers

Government of Lesotho

Marabu Natursteinhandel

Old Mutual

Termico Proprietary

Pepkor Holdings

The Standard Bank of South Africa

Transnet

Work highlights

  • Advised Transnet in South Africa’s largest class action to date brought by representatives of the Transnet Pension Fund and the Transnet Second Defined Benefit Fund for claims in excess of ZAR80bn. The parties reached a settlement in December 2019.
  • Advised the Old Mutual Group on the dismissal of Peter Moyo, the chief executive, after a conflict of interest resulted in a breakdown in trust with the board.
  • Advised Eskom on dealing with past corruption at a strategic and board level.

ENSafrica

ENSafrica has continued to develop its standing in financial services disputes and remains at the forefront of class action cases. Retail and telecoms are also key areas for the sizeable team. Aslam Moosajee is a leader in financial services disputes, Sue Hayes is rated for class actions and recently defended the Transnet Second Defined Benefit Fund and the Transport Pension Fund in class action claims brought by the funds' pensioners. Cape Town's George van Niekerk is noted for commercial and administrative law cases. Armando Aguiar is an experienced figure in commercial litigation and arbitration.  

Practice head(s):

Sue Hayes; George van Niekerk

Other key lawyers:

Aslam Moosajee; Armando Aguiar; John Zieff; James Haydock; Deon Lambert; Julia Ferraz-Cardoso

Testimonials

‘I have found the team to be commercially minded in their assessment of disputes. Apart from the thoroughness of their approach to matters, I have enjoyed the precision with which they interrogated issues and the unvarnished advice they proffered in my prior dealings with them.’

‘Their dedication, attention to detail, responsiveness and high quality legal analysis has been very impressive.’

‘The team has a deep knowledge of the dispute resolution process and is able to provide advice based on the commercial needs of clients. They also take the time to understand the client’s business and tailor their advice accordingly.’

‘James Haydock has been an exceptional lead in our litigation matters. He is detailed, thorough and very knowledgeable. James balances complex legal issues with practical solutions and is very proficient with case management.’

‘James Haydock’s knowledge of the law is outstanding and his application thereof in any given circumstance always takes the client’s needs into account. There is never a need to obtain confirmation of an opinion once James has provided it and his views are trusted throughout the organisation.’

‘Julia Ferraz-Cardoso is meticulous, thorough, strategic and a commercially wise counsel with amazing problem solving skills.’

‘George van Niekerk is a seasoned litigator with in depth and well-rounded dispute resolution skills, who approaches disputes holistically.’

Key clients

36One

BP

Casino Association of South Africa

Chiliboy Mahlatse Ralepelle

Discovery

Distell

Elekta

EOH

Eskom

Golden Arrow Bus Services

Industrial Development Corporation

Investec

Lancaster

Lewis Stores

Maitland Group

Ninety One

Phyllis Jowell Jewish Day School

Pick n Pay

Prudential

Rosle

Samsung

Sanlam

Standard Bank

Sasol South Africa

The BoKaap Civic

The Transnet Second Defined Benefit Fund

Transport Pension Fund

United Ulama Council of South Africa

Woolworths

Work highlights

  • Advised the Massmart Group and 40 other respondents in a dispute launched against them by Business Connection.
  • Represented the Transnet Second Defined Benefit Fund and the Transport Pension Fund in a class action with a value of over R80bn.
  • Advised Lancaster on numerous dispute matters.

Allen & Overy (South Africa) LLP

Allen & Overy (South Africa) LLP is an emerging force in dispute resolution in South Africa and across the African continent. It has achieved further prominence in business rescue and insolvency cases, financial services disputes, construction, and compliance and investigations. Arbitration is a particular forte of the team. Department head Gerhard Rudolph has a fine reputation in the financial services disputes field, and is supported by counsels Callum O’Connor and Widaad Ebrahim.

Practice head(s):

Gerhard Rudolph

Other key lawyers:

Callum O’Connor; Widaad Ebrahim.  

Testimonials

‘This firm always considers practical aspects of the issues we have faced. Concretely, it always evaluates legal and business risks properly and give us the best practical advice considering the given business circumstances.’

‘Very professional. Top quality service’

‘In-depth knowledge of the case and its history. The team works hard to find solutions’

Key clients

Absa Bank

Actom

Anglo American

Aveng

Mitsubishi Corporation

Nedbank

Metis Strategic Advisors

Public Investment Corporation

South African Reserve Bank

Sage Group

African Rainbow Minerals (including subsidiary Assmang)

Group Five (including subsidiaries Group Five Construction and Group Five Power International)

Work highlights

  • Acted for a listed mining company in litigation relating to offshore structures and recovery of funds through asset tracing in a number of jurisdictions, including Switzerland, the Netherlands, the British Virgin Islands and Curacao.
  • Acted for Assmang in a dispute against the state-owned power utility relating to energy savings obligations.
  • Acted for the business rescue practitioners of Group Five in successfully opposing the government’s assertion that it is a creditor, and ongoing proceedings before the competition/antitrust authorities relating to historic allegations of anti-competitive conduct in the South African construction sector.

Clyde & Co LLP

Clyde & Co LLP’s highly reputed team is closely associated with the insurance industry, though a series of lateral hires has expanded its practice into mainstream commercial litigation. The group is active in both South Africa and cross-border disputes, and is a growing force in international arbitration. Shipping, construction and medical malpractice disputes are also important elements of the wider practice, and. COVID-19 insurance coverage disputes were a major source of engagements in 2020. Daniel Le Roux and Tony Hardie are hugely experienced dispute resolution practitioners, particularly in the insurance sector. Ernie van der Vyver is another key member of the team, while Cape Town’s Athol Gordon is noted for medical negligence cases.

Practice head(s):

Tony Hardie; Daniel Le Roux

Other key lawyers:

Ernie van der Vyver; Athol Gordon; Lee Astfalck; Warren Hiepner; Wim Cilliers

Testimonials

‘Leading insurance law experts and many years of experience, tailored to meet our needs in almost all instances.’

‘They offer sound advice and guidance and strive to make our work easier. They manage highly technical situations for us which require fast turnaround times, attention to detail and a time-consuming effort. They are always available to give assistance whenever needed. They are a really a fantastic firm to work with.’

‘Their legal opinions are well researched and structured, especially in respect of contentious issues and high quantum matters.’

‘Warren Hiepner and Wim Cilliers are strategists. Their realistic approach in handling our contentious cases are essential for our company. They understand our philosophy and engage with us all the time. ’

Key clients

iTOO Special Risks

The Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration ofSouth Africa

Fasken

Fasken has an established record in administrative and constitutional law matters. It has a large team of construction dispute specialists and is a growing force in business rescue cases with insolvency specialist Haroon Laher to the fore. Nic Roodt is a leading litigator, as is Rakhee Bhoora and land and mining dispute specialist Eric van den Berg.

Other key lawyers:

Nic Roodt; Haroon Laher; Rakhee Bhoora; Eric van den Berg 

Herbert Smith Freehills South Africa LLP

Herbert Smith Freehills South Africa LLP has further cemented its position in the international arbitration field, along with additional growth in corporate crime and investigations, including some of the jurisdiction's most sensitive and high-profile cases. Cameron Dunstan-Smith is a recognised specialist in corporate crime and investigations, while department head Jonathan Ripley-Evans is an emerging talent in commercial litigation and arbitration. Peter Leon is a key figure in regulation and risk matters in Anglophone Africa.

Practice head(s):

Jonathan Ripley-Evans; Cameron Dunstan-Smith 

Other key lawyers:

Peter Leon

Testimonials

‘Efficient, effective and an outstanding service delivery. Partners assume personal responsibility for difficult areas of law and do not merely pass this off to juniors. There appears to be careful oversight over the work performed by juniors.’

‘Outstanding legal knowledge and service, thorough, diligent and the department assumes accountability. They take care of clients as if each client was the only client.’

‘Very strong enthusiastic team, able to deal with the big matters and maintain excellent levels of service.’

‘Jonathan Ripley-Evans is very pragmatic. He gives his full attention and strives hard to achieve the best outcomes.’

Key clients

Thales South Africa

Kaxu Solar One

Tiger Brands

Tourvest Holdings

Vitol

Cenpower Generation Company

Comsar Properties

Norilsk Nickel Africa

Nornickel

Sumitomo Corporation

Sumitomo Corporation Africa

Bank of American Merrill Lynch

Uber

Gartner

Work highlights

  • Advised and represented Thales Societe Anonyme as lead counsel in a high-profile corporate criminal prosecution.
  • Represented Gartner in South Africa and to conduct an investigation into allegations of corruption relating to a significant contract with the South African government.
  • Represented Vitol and Vesquin Trading in judicial review proceedings, which were instituted by the Central Energy Fund and the Strategic Fuel Fund Association.

Baker McKenzie Johannesburg

Baker McKenzie Johannesburg has developed strong connections to colleagues in London, Dubai and other international offices, enabling an augmented pipeline of engagements from multinationals and global clients. This has reinforced the Johannesburg team's focus on financial services disputes and its ability to land Africa-wide instructions. Corruption and investigations matters are still key for the group, along with business rescue, insolvency and administrative law disputes. Darryl Bernstein remains prominent in financial services disputes and John Bell for insolvency and administrative law cases.

Practice head(s):

Darryl Bernstein

Other key lawyers:

John Bell; Wian Steyn

Testimonials

‘The team pays great attention to detail, focuses on legal advice that makes business sense and really takes time to understand the business of the client they are supporting.’

‘It’s a close knit team.’

‘Well resourced and commercially astute. Responsive.’

‘Darryl Bernstein is extremely knowledgeable about the South African market.’

Daryl Bernstein is an evidently seasoned lawyer, with a depth of insight and knowledge on the matter being handled. He demonstrated strong expertise in key international legislation that was relevant to the complex matter being handled.

‘Wian Steyn is enthusiastic, thorough, appreciates the importance of providing timely advice and attention to detail.’

Key clients

Guangxi Liugong Machinery

Global Distressed Alpha Fund III

Asia Minerals

Bounty Brands

Concor Holdings

Sun International Management

Aveng Africa

Rotary Club of Rosebank

voestalpine VAE

Trencon

Bain & Company

Anglo American Platinum and Rustenburg Platinum Mines

White Oak Trade & Specialty Finance

Trustco Group Holdings

Work highlights

  • Acted for Bounty Brands in a dispute connected to its global restructuring.
  • Acted for Bain & Company in a case concerning The South African Revenue Service (SARS)’s threat to institute civil and criminal action against it for its role in developing an operating model for them, which  allegedly resulted in the impairment of revenue collecting capabilities.

Glyn Marais

Glyn Marais is principally focused on commercial litigation and real estate disputes. It has an established record in both domestic and cross-border cases. Administrative and public law disputes are also a forte, and the team has also seen growth in employment disputes. Riaan du Plessis leads the department.

Practice head(s):

Riaan du Plessis

Other key lawyers:

Robert January

Key clients

Growthpoint Properties

Irene Charnley

Bosveld Phosphates

Medtronic

Equity Diamond Cutting Works

Miganu Investments Holdings

Huawei Technologies

IEC Holden

Reinhausen South Africa

Naspers

Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems

Johannesburg Land Company

Road Freight Association

Sinosteel South Africa

Sanlam Life

Water and Sanitation Services

Strategic Partners Group

Hitachi Europe

Southern Palace Group

CMTI Consulting

Bitumen Suppliers and Services

One & Only (Cape Town)

Texton Property Fund

FH Bertling Logistics

ETG Value Chains

Inspired Group of Schools

Oasis Global Management Company Ireland

BidTravel

MMed Distribution

Kambai Photovoltaic Manufacturing

Knowles Husain Lindsay Inc

Knowles Husain Lindsay Inc is a leading dispute resolution boutique. Amongst its founding partners, it has a huge amount of big-case experience, including claims against banks, judicial review, and constitutional administrative law cases. Errol KnowlesMohamed Husain and Ian Lindsay are highly rated by the market.

Lawtons Africa

Lawtons Africa has an established dispute resolution practice with a number of major clients such as Telkom. It has maintained its prominence in the market through a series of headline matters, including unlawful competition cases, general commercial disputes, and international arbitration. The firm remains at the forefront of cross-border disputes. Veronica Vurgarellis is a seasoned litigator and Clive Rumsey is a leader in construction and infrastructure disputes. Gary Pritchard has joined Cox Yeats.

Practice head(s):

Veronica Vurgarellis

Other key lawyers:

Clive Rumsey

Testimonials

‘The team is very competent and responsive. It understands the client’s needs and provides practical solutions.’

‘They are practical, cost conscious, solution and resolution driven. They are not just there to clock up the fees, ripping clients off, but are focused on building long term relationships.’

 

Key clients

Telkom

Business Connexion

Work highlights

  • Assisted Telkom in resisting a claim made by a supplier, where the supplier potentially defrauded Telkom as well as the South Africa Police Services.
  • Advised Business Connexion on urgent interdictory proceedings to protect against unlawful competition by a competitor in collusion with a client.