With a total of nine practice areas being ranked, achieving a Tier 1 ranking in four practice areas as well as 14 individual special mentions, Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr and its lawyers feature prominently in the Legal 500 Europe Middle East and Africa (EMEA) 2009 edition.
Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr achieved Tier 1 rankings for the Corporate/M&A- Johannesburg; Dispute Resolution; Mining; and Projects and Infrastructure practice areas. The firm was ranked for the first time in the Projects and Infrastructure and Tax practice areas. Another achievement was the rise of the mining practice from Tier 2 to Tier 1 and Ian Hayes' two individual mentions for Corporate/M&A- Johannesburg as well as Mining.
According to the Legal 500 overview of the South African legal market, local firms are looking to consolidate and merge in order to compete both locally and on the larger international stage. The merger between Cliffe Dekker Inc with Hofmeyr Herbstein & Gihwala Inc is described as giving access to the legacy Hofmeyr Cape Town base, and the critical mass necessary to compete with the top Johannesburg transactional firms.
Practice area rankings
Corporate/M&A - Johannesburg - Tier 1
Of the firm's Corporate/M&A- Johannesburg practice, the Legal 500 report had this to say: "DLA Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr has seen enormous change recently, merging with Hofmeyr Herbstein & Gihwala and deepening its ties with DLA Piper UK LLP. Ian Hayes remains at the helm, whose 'service provided is of an extremely high quality, practical, to the point and no-nonsense'. In 2008 the firm advised Lonmin, the world's third largest platinum producer, on its hostile takeover by Xstrata, an unusual deal in South Africa, as well as major BEE deals for Vodacom (R7.5bn); and Anooraq Resources/Anglo Platinum (R3.6bn)."
Dispute Resolution - Tier 1
"DLA Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr boasts one of the leading commercial disputes teams in Johannesburg. Jonathan Witts-Hewinson offers unparalleled experience, and Sam Oosthuizen is also recommended for banking litigation, as well as aviation disputes. 'Sam has extensive knowledge of the law and is confident and sure of the best approach' commented one client. In 2008, the team scored a coup by recruiting Terry Winstanley from boutique Winstanley and Cullinan Inc, who is president of the Environmental Law Association, and one of the country's foremost environmental disputes experts."
Mining - Tier 1
"DLA Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr can draw on the global expertise of DLA Piper UK LLP, and has a solid record in the South African mining sector. For example, the firm advised Harmony Gold Mining Company Limited on many corporate finance matters since its merger with African Rainbow Minerals. The main contacts are head of corporate and commercial Ian Hayes, and Willem Jacobs. Other clients include Coal of Africa (Australian) and Platinum Group Metals (Canada)."
Projects and Infrastructure - Tier 1
"DLA Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr can now plug into the impressive global DLA Piper UK LLP projects capability, and in South Africa takes on the legacy Hofmeyr Herbstein & Gihwala Inc team. Historically the firm has acted on a variety of PPPs, often for the government. 'I have a high regard for their professionalism and competence' commented one major client, while another announced themselves 'very pleased with the services rendered.'"
Banking & Finance - Tier 2
"DLA Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr's two recent mergers have built upon Cliffe Dekker's already solid credentials on the Johannesburg banking scene. Joz Coetzer is a well-regarded name in the market, and provides 'outstanding service' to clients. Coetzer's team in 2008 has advised Standard Bank on various financings, as well as the Department of Public Enterprises on loans. On the insolvency side, the firm has acted on the restructuring of South African Airways; and also for the joint liquidators of Hyundai Motors Distributors."
Corporate/M&A - Cape Town - Tier 2
"The merger with Hofmeyr Herbstein & Gihwala Inc gives DLA Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr substantially more critical mass in the Cape, adding legacy Hofmeyr partners Peter Hesseling and Gasant Orrie to Dave Thompson's well-established corporate/commercial team. They have covered BEE deals and inward investment as well as M&A and corporate finance. The team has also been busy on restructuring, for example of Richemont Group and Vodacom."
Labour & Employment - Tier 2
"DLA Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr boasts seven employment specialist directors in Johannesburg, plus two more in Cape Town, and the team is led by Aadil Patel. The team has seen many changes with the recent merger, and also the arrival in 2007 of director Fiona Leppan from Leppan Beech Inc."
Tax - Tier 2
"DLA Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr recruited the eminent Emil Brincker from Edward Nathan Sonnenbergs Inc in 2008.
'We have found the service to be extremely high quality and are very pleased to use them' remarked one impressed corporate client."
Intellectual Property - Tier 3
"In Eben van Wyk, DLA Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr has a respected younger soft IP partner, and the firm can plug into the wider DLA Piper UK LLP intellectual property practice. Highlights in 2008 include defending Heineken against an advertising complaint lodged by South African Breweries concerning Heineken's television advertisements for the Rugby World Cup, and advising Savanna Tobacco Company on a counterfeiting claim."
Individuals with special mention
Ian Hayes (two mentions)
Eben van Wyk