Congratulations to all our practice areas and experts for their outstanding results in The Legal 500 EMEA 2020 rankings

Our firm’s top rankings in The Legal 500 EMEA 2020 depend significantly on client feedback and thus attest to our firm’s strong and longstanding client partnerships with South Africa’s leading corporates and innovators.

17 Apr 2020 11 min read Article

As ever, we wish to acknowledge and thank our clients for continuing to choose our firm as their legal and strategic partner. 

CDH was ranked as a Top-Tier Firm in four practices areas:

  • Corporate & Commercial/M&A
  • Dispute Resolution
  • Employment
  • Real Estate

CDH was also recommended as a Leading Firm in the following seven practice areas:

  • Banking & Finance
  • Competition
  • Construction
  • Investment Funds
  • Mining
  • Projects & Infrastructure
  • Tax & Exchange Control

Ten of our Directors were listed in The Legal 500 EMEA’s elite “Leading Lawyers” list:

  • Ludwig Smith (Banking & Finance);
  • David Pinnock (Corporate & Commercial/M&A);
  • Willem Jacobs (Corporate & Commercial/M&A);
  • Chris Charter (Competition);
  • Tim Fletcher (Dispute Resolution);
  • Fiona Leppan (Employment);
  • Allan Reid (Mining);
  • Lucia Erasmus (Real Estate);
  • William Midgley (Real Estate); and
  • Emil Brincker (Tax).

Well done to our Directors ranked as Next Generation Partners:

  • Justine Krige (Commercial, Corporate and M&A);
  • Kgosi Nkaiseng (Dispute Resolution);
  • Tim Smit (Dispute Resolution); and
  • Giada Masina (Mining).

Congratulations to the following experts for being named Rising Stars:

  • Associate, Siviwe Mcetywa (Construction);
  • Senior Associate, Gareth Howard (Dispute Resolution); and
  • Senior Associate, Wayne Murray (Investment Funds).

Special mention must also go to our Directors who earned new recommendations in the 2020 edition:

  • Jenni Darling (Banking & Finance);
  • David Thompson (Corporate, Commercial & M&A);
  • Johan Green (Corporate, Commercial & M&A);
  • Timothy Baker (Construction);
  • Gillian Lumb (Employment);
  • Michael Yeates (Employment);
  • Jose Jorge (Employment);
  • Lilia Franca (Mining – this is in addition to Lilia’s longstanding recommendation in Corporate, Commercial and M&A); and
  • Dries Hoek (Tax).

The full list of CDH’s practice area and expert rankings appears below: 


 The Legal 500’s editorial, including client testimonials, on our practices and specialists: 


"Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr is at the forefront of South Africa-listed company and private equity transactions. It is also gaining ground in cross-border deals and remains strong in Johannesburg and Cape Town. Willem Jacobs is a leader in listed company transactions and David Pinnock is a major name in private equity deals. Johan Latsky and Lilia Franca are also rated, as are Cape Town’s Peter Hesseling, David Thompson and Johan Green. Justine Krige is an emerging name.”


“The department has a strong commercial inclination and business sense.”

“We have found the team to be highly commercial yet practical in implementing the transactions envisaged/desired by the counter-parties. Project management has been very good. We know exactly where we are in the bigger process – there
no surprises.”

“The team provides well-balanced, practical, and business orientated service offering.”

“Willem Jacobs works closely with us to understand our objectives, to ensure that the logic/rationale is thoroughly tested and then accurately translated into best-in-class documentation that is easy to interpret and use. Willem is commercial and practical when advising us, which assists in clear decision-making with a minimum of back and forth.”

“David Pinnock is particularly great at cutting through to the actual risk issues which need to be addressed, with practical solutions.”

“Peter Hesseling is knowledgeable, commercial and solution orientated.”

“Lilia Franca is outstanding in terms of both the depth of her knowledge as well as her ability to identify solutions. She is able to master incredibly complex matters and provide constructive advice towards concluding a transaction.”

“David Thompson is an excellent lawyer who has impressive legal and industry knowledge and handles complex and delicate issues with considerable skill.”

“Johan Green has the ability to remain calm and rational when the counter-party or their attorneys are no longer acting reasonable or commercial.”

“Justine Krige is not only an excellent commercial lawyer, but also extremely helpful, approachable, efficient and always ready to go the extra mile.” 


Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr remains at the forefront of commercial litigation. It has a strong senior bench, including team head Tim Fletcher, Rishaban 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.


“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 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.”


“Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr has established itself as a popular choice for advice on redundancies, strikes and retrenchments. It has also achieved growth in Africa-wide engagements. Fiona Leppan is a leader in the mining sector, Hugo Pienaar is noted for road freight and Aadil Patel is highly regarded for employment work in the public and financial services sectors. Tech and media are also growth markets for the team. Gillian Lumb, Michael Yeates, Nicholas Preston and Jose Jorge are also rated.”


“The firm’s uniqueness is embedded in the personal and professional experience you have as a client. They have the ability to appropriately balance building personal relationships with professional conduct, a more informal culture with the professionalism, respectful customer-centricity with strong legal advice and opinions.”

“The team is highly supportive and provides a partnership relationship.”

“Extremely knowledgeable attorneys who operate with the highest level of integrity. Their brilliance and the results they produce are truly impressive.”

“Aadil Patel is a pragmatic confident problem solver. He is always accessible and his general service is that of value add with a focus on outcomes rather than time.”

“Gillian Lumb is absolutely fantastic, always quick to assist and is able to explain complex matters simply. She take time to hear my issues and provides suggestions and great advice.”

“Michael Yeates is exceptionally professional and supportive. No matter how busy he is he always makes time for us and responds to queries in a professional and timely manner.”  


“Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr is widely recognised as the market leader thanks to its level of commitment to real estate, along with the volume, variety and complexity of its engagements. Attie Pretorius, William Midgley  and development expert Lucia Erasmus are highly regarded for both South Africa and Africa-wide matters. John Webber leads the department.”


“It offers a complete one stop solution for all corporate legal needs and an ability to source knowledge from other areas when needed. The team is willing to go the extra mile, offer superb client service and is always available.”

“The team has the strongest skills and experience in the listed real estate sector in South Africa.”

“It is an exceptionally professional firm with highly skilled and knowledgeable individuals. Their dedication, availability, and hard work, to name just a few traits, are beyond question.”

“William Midgley is undoubtedly the most experienced and knowledgeable attorney in the South African real estate industry.”


“Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr maintains a notable presence in advising on multiple financing products and in the bank regulatory field. Project finance, DCM and derivatives are just a few key examples of core strength. Department head Deon Wilken is noted for project, trade and commodities, and acquisition finance; Ludwig Smith is a leader in acquisition finance and preference share fundings; and Bridget King is outstanding in derivatives. Pierre Swart stands out for ECM and DCM and Jenni Darling is also rated.”


“The practice’s uniqueness is its wealth of knowledge and experience. The team has proven time and time again that they are experts in the field.”

“We find that the firm consistently offers top tier quality legal advice, is commercially minded, quick to turn agreements and offer competitive rates.”

“Ludwig Smith is, in my opinion, the market leader in the banking sector. He understands the industry well and has a wealth of experience.”

“Jenni Darling has the ability to consider both legal and commercial aspects in transactions. Jenni is able to differentiate which issues to confront and which to let go, making for efficient transactions.”


“Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr has an impressive market share of big-ticket transactions, litigation matters and market inquiries. It has made a particular impression in the telecoms and mining sectors, where Chris Charter has an outstanding reputation, while Andries le Grange is a key name for Constitutional Court cases. Lara Granville is also recommended.”


“The firm has a culture of making the client feel they are being listened to and involved in the entire process.”

“The team is engaged and clear in its communication skills. It is always willing to hear the client’s view and has no issues with guiding and mentoring the client through the process.”

“Chris Charter is super intelligent. He knows more about the industry and the company that I work for than I do. I know Chris’s advice is always highly considered from every angle and something that I can confidently rely on.”


”Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr has a fine record in front-end construction work in South Africa’s renewable energy programme. Joe Whittle and Timothy Baker are noted for construction disputes and Emma Dempster is rated for front-end construction contracts including those related to embedded generation projects. Senior associate Siviwe Mcetywa is another key name.”


“Detail oriented, but also reasonable and solution oriented.”

“Very strong renewable energy knowledge, with commercial acumen to capture technical commercial agreements in legal documents.”

“I’ve found Emma Dempster to be a very organised, professional lawyer, who’s understanding of embedded generation legislation has helped us in quite a number of ‘grey’ situations with clients.”

“Timothy Baker is focused, responsive, very competent and flexible. The quality of advice is outstanding compared to other lawyers. Not only is his advice sound and accurate, but fits well with business strategy and objectives of my organisation.”

“Siviwe Mcetywa is a talented rising star in my opinion. An absolute pleasure to work with.”


“Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr’s funds team is leveraging the established client relationships within the firm. It now advises a greater number of general partners, particularly those in the mid-market space, and a growing proportion of start-up black fund managers. John Gillmer, who is based in Cape Town, leads the team, which includes tax director Mark Linington, who specialises in fund formation. Wayne Murray is the key name at senior associate level.”


“Efficient, committed and motivated to get us to realise our goals during capital raising. They were responsive and proactive.”

“Breadth of industry service coverage. A one-stop shop.”

“John Gillmer provides fast responses and is knowledgeable on private equity structuring.”

“Wayne Murray was fast to respond and clearly explained legal concepts which were new to me.”


“Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr has a significant client base of major, mid-tier and junior mining companies. It is active in restructurings and transactions involving the sale of non-core assets. Environmental and regulatory matters also account for a significant portion of the practice. Allan Reid leads the department, which includes mining law specialist Giada Masina and M&A leader Lilia Franca.”


“Cliffe Dekker is by far the most efficient, thorough and professional firm.”

“The team is excellent, committed and have impressive turnaround times on documents. They always go the extra mile.”

“The turn-around time is phenomenal.”

“Insight into mining law and practical application, strong corporate and M&A competency (especially in listed company rules), ability to find solutions to problems/issues.”

“Allan Reid is fantastic, commercial, his views are robust, and he has a high ethical standard.”

“Lilia Franca is a brilliant attorney, she has a vast amount of experience and we are very fortunate as she is always available for us.”


“Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr has a strong presence in energy and infrastructure projects in South Africa and further afield in southern Africa and East Africa. Jay Govender leads the team, which also includes Emma Dempster and oil and gas specialist Megan Rodgers.”


“Discharge of advisory services with highest degree of integrity and objectivity.”

“The group works together as one integrated unit/team and has complementary skills.”

“Good in-depth knowledge of the energy sector, and able to provide constructive solutions to certain challenges.”

“Jay Govender will not bend on moral and ethical advisory standards. She will effectively have the client’s back.”

“Emma Dempster has a very strong understanding of the energy and infrastructure sector and provides valued input into the structuring of power projects.”

“Megan Rodgers has over the years, proven time and again to be the best asset on all my oil & gas transactions. Her knowledge and ability to dissect transactions and transform these into sound legal agreements is second to none.”


“Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr continues to impress in financial services and mining tax matters. With strength across the board, the team has achieved growth in big-ticket disputes, including transfer pricing litigation. Emil Brincker is an outstanding practitioner, while Ludwig Smith is noted for hybrid financial instruments that involve complex tax structuring, and Gerhard Badenhorst is a recognised VAT specialist. Mark Linington is prominent in the fund structuring space. Dries Hoek is also rated.”


“They have a range of diverse specialists, which amount to a one stop shop solution for my tax needs. I would endorse them as easy to work with, have sound technical skills, and are focused on delivering pragmatic solutions. They make what is a complex area of law, accessible and understandable, both to myself and my stakeholders in the business.”

“Ludwig Smith and Dries Hoek will astutely identify tax risks, and help you understand and appreciate them in a meaningful way. They also understand the commercial drivers of the deal and are solutions orientated.”

“Emil Brincker has been our trusted adviser for many years and always provides a service of the highest quality.”

Thank you, once again, to all our clients, without whom these results would not be possible.

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