For 33 years, The Legal 500 has been analysing the capabilities of law firms across the world, with a comprehensive research programme revised and updated every year to bring the most up-to-date vision of the global legal market. Assessing the strengths of law firms in over 150 jurisdictions, Legal 500 rankings highlight the practice area teams and experts providing the most cutting edge and innovative advice to corporate counsel.
Legal 500’s research focuses on submissions from law firms, interviews with leading private practice lawyers and, notably, client feedback. The exceptional results CDH achieved in this year’s Legal 500 are thus testament to the strength of our longstanding partnerships with our clients.
CDH was ranked as a Top-Tier Firm in four practices areas:
CDH was also recommended as a Leading Firm in the following practice areas:
Congratulations to the following CDH Directors recognised in The Legal 500 EMEA’s elite “Leading Lawyers” list:
- Ludwig Smith (Banking & Finance) *Hall of Fame*;
- David Pinnock (Corporate & Commercial, M&A);
- Willem Jacobs (Corporate & Commercial, M&A);
- Ian Hayes (Corporate & Commercial/M&A) *Hall of Fame*;
- Chris Charter (Competition);
- Clive Rumsey (Construction);
- Tim Fletcher (Dispute Resolution);
- Fiona Leppan (Employment Law);
- Aadil Patel (Employment Law);
- Allan Reid (Mining);
- Lucia Erasmus (Real Estate);
- William Midgley (Real Estate);
- John Webber (Real Estate); and
- Emil Brincker (Tax).
Well done to our Directors ranked as Next Generation Partners:
- Justine Krige (Corporate & Commercial, M&A);
- Kgosi Nkaiseng (Dispute Resolution); and
- Tim Smit (Dispute Resolution).
Congratulations to the following experts for being named Rising Stars:
- Senior Associate, Siviwe Mcetywa (Construction);
- Senior Associate, Naasha Loopoo (Competition);
- Senior Associate, Gareth Howard (Dispute Resolution);
- Senior Associate, Wayne Murray (Investment Funds); and
- Senior Associate, Jess Reid (Banking & Finance).
Special mention must also go to our experts who earned new recommendations in the 2021 edition:
- Jess Reid (Banking & Finance);
- Mashudu Mphafudi (Banking & Finance);
- Stephen Boikanyo (Banking & Finance);
- Jackie King (Banking & Finance);
- Izak Lessing (Banking & Finance);
- Naasha Loopoo (Competition);
- Susan Meyer (Competition);
- Albert Aukema (Competition);
- Roux van der Merwe (Corporate & Commercial, M&A);
- Rachel Kelly (Corporate & Commercial, M&A);
- Lucinde Rhoodie (Dispute Resolution);
- Anli Bezuidenhout (Employment Law);
- Vivien Chaplin (Corporate & Commercial, M&A and Mining);
- Ben Cripps (Mining);
- Tessa Brewis (Projects & Infrastructure);
- Werner de Waal (Real Estate);
- Simóne Franks (Real Estate);
- Muhammad Gattoo (Real Estate);
- Stephan Spamer (Tax); and
- Howmera Parak (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:
CORPORATE & COMMERCIAL, M&A | TIER 1
Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr consistently leads the market in South Africa listed company deals. It routinely advises some of the biggest corporate brands in the jurisdiction. The firm also continues to impress in BEE and private equity transactions. Willem Jacobs is an eminent attorney in listed company deals and David Pinnock is at the forefront of the private equity segment. Peter Hesseling is an eminent figure in the Cape Town market. Rachel Kelly and Vivien Chaplin joined the firm from Hogan Lovells (South Africa) in 2020.
‘The team is incredibly committed to ensuring the success of a transaction. They have seemingly limitless energy, but it is their problem solving that makes them stand out as advisors.’
‘Willem Jacobs leads an excellent team and provides practical advice, focused on ensuring an appropriate commercial and legal outcome.’
‘Willem Jacobs has been stand out in his field and is deeply trusted and respected by us as clients.’
‘David Pinnock always makes time for us and is able to digest a situation very quickly.’
‘David Pinnock is incredibly competent, but more importantly businesslike and practical in the corporate and commercial side of the practice.’
‘Roux van der Merwe is an exceptional lawyer. Roux is calm and considered and has vast experience in his field and is able to approach a transaction considering all of the other facets of law that will impact on the transaction.’
‘Ian Hayes is always available and willing to assist in trying to find solutions. He has excellent people skills and an ability to explain complex matters to non-legal people.’
DISPUTE RESOLUTION | TIER 1
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.
‘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.’
EMPLOYMENT LAW | TIER 1
Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr has gained considerable market recognition, both from the public and private sector. Financial services, mining and transportation are key sectors of activity for the team. The practice covers contentious and non-contentious employment law, workplace health and safety, immigration, and also pensions. The group is also at the forefront of anticorruption-related matters. Department head Aadil Patel has achieved additional prominence through a series of notable instructions, and Hugo Pienaar, Gillian Lumb and mining sector specialist Fiona Leppan are also key members of the team. The firm further expanded the group with the hire of Imraan Mahomed and a team from Lawtons Africa in October 2020.
‘The team is extremely responsive to clients needs and deadlines, and are able to give urgent turnaround to instructions. The quality of the advice is excellent, which is very practical and commercially sound.’
‘Ability to advise on complex matters whilst unpacking the issues succinctly. Good value for money. Valuable and regular value adds to clients.’
‘Aadil Patel is client focused, delivers consistent excellent service, commercially sound legal advice, ability to simplify complex legal and factual issues and offers practical solutions, clear identification of potential risk and offers pragmatic risk mitigation measures.’
‘Gillian Lumb delivers consistent excellent service and clear identification of potential risk and offers pragmatic risk mitigation measures. Presents legal training for a wide client audience as a value add. She is a seasoned employment lawyer and has a collaborative approach.’
‘What makes Hugo Pienaar so unique in his field of expertise is not only his exceptional knowledge of labour law, but also his kindness and humility. He connects with his clients on a personal level and has the gift to come up with solutions for legal problems that are legally sound and commercial viable.‘
‘Jose Jorge is a practical lawyer, who works hard to find solutions.’
‘Jose Jorge is always up to speed with what is happening in our matters, and is very responsive. It gives us confidence that the quality of work will be what we expect from the firm and lawyer in question.’
‘Anli Bezuidenhoudt is one of the best attorneys I have worked with. She simplifies matters and does not take a legalistic approach to an enquiry. She listens to the evidence and then makes a recommendation which assists the employer to practically implement certain measures.’
REAL ESTATE | TIER 1
Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr has the extensive expertise, experience and resources to compete at the forefront of each key real estate segment. It has bolstered its standing in big-ticket real estate financings, including those involving structured finance and securitisation structures. It has earned accolades for its work in major residential developments on the basis of long-term lease models, and it has stood apart in the REITs sector. Although real estate doyen Attie Pretorius has retired, Werner de Waal has taken over much of his legacy practice. At the same time, John Webber, Lucia Erasmus and William Midgley are at the pinnacle of the profession.
‘CDH displays true professionalism, work ethic, a high degree of availability and quick turnaround times on short notice in the majority of cases. Their knowledge and expertise is also first class.’
‘The individuals we deal with are experts in their fields, which ensures that as a client I get a very clear understanding of what I can and can’t do.’
‘Muhammad Gattoo is hands on, engaged and actively seeks out solutions. His team is always willing to go the extra mile.’
‘John Webber is a pioneer with regard to leasehold developments in South Africa.’
‘John Webber is willing to propose new ideas and solutions to accommodate the interests of various stakeholders. John is almost always contactable and reverts with well considered and formulated solutions.’
‘Simóne Franks is always quick to respond and addresses any concerns clearly. With more difficult transactions, she facilitates constructive discussions between the parties with a view to resolving any issues amicably.’
BANKING & FINANCE | TIER 2
Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr’s substantial and prominent team has developed closer connections to development finance institutions leading to a number of major engagements on financings in South Africa; much credit should go to Mashudu Mphafudi particularly, along with Stephen Boikanyo, who have the key DFI relationships. The wider group continues to be active in renewable energy sector financings, increasingly on the borrower/sponsor side. Another growth segment is green bonds, which eminent capital markets partner Jackie King is leading. Deon Wilken leads the department, which includes seasoned and respected partner Ludwig Smith, who is part of a sub-group that houses up-and-coming name Jenni Darling and senior associate Jess Reid. Pierre Swart is making a further impression in debt issuances and MTN programmes.
‘The team is very proactive, not only in relation to matters itself but also in meeting client specific needs.’
‘Personable service, always contactable and fast turnaround times make this team stand ahead of their competitors.’
‘Izak Lessing is a phenomenal English and South African qualified banking and finance lawyer with a tremendous ability to understand the commercial issues on a transaction. He is capable of dissecting almost any issue and supporting the resolution of it. He is most certainly an asset and trusted advisor to any client.’
‘Deon Wilken is a smart and professional operator. Helps us simplify matters where appropriate and also brings tactical and strategic thinking.’
‘Deon Wilken at CDH is an exceptional lawyer and advisor. With his vast experience and skills he has been able to assist us to navigate complex funding structures. Deon is also a superb negotiator with counter parties.’
‘Ludwig Smith is a doyen on structuring and tax matters. Excellent legal knowledge, a wealth of experience and the ability to translate this to practical guidance, as well as a willingness to be creative.’
‘Ludwig Smith and with Jess Reid are willing to assist us in a collaborative way to design suitable financing structures for clients. They have confidence in their work, and have an ability to translate this into lucid contracts enshrining their ideas. This has involved a lot of complicated mathematics which they have not shied away from.’
‘Ludwig Smith and with Jess Reid’s analytical skills are exceptionally strong.’
‘Jenni Darling is a hidden gem and a fantastic lawyer. She is particularly adept in the banking and finance space where she excels in delivering excellent commercial outcomes in a practical and cost effective manner.’
‘Jenni Darling also happens to be an excellent commercial and M&A lawyer, meaning she and her team can provide a full service on a transaction and she does not restrict herself to only part of the deal.’
COMPETITION | TIER 2
Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr’s impressive pipeline of corporate transactions has ensured that it is at the forefront of merger notifications. Moreover, it has a healthy share of market inquiry engagements. It also advised on the first successful challenge to a warrant for a dawn raid process conducted by the Competition Commission. Healthcare, financial services and TMT are particularly active sectors for the team. Beyond South Africa, it frequently deals with other key competition regulators, including those in Namibia, Botswana, Swaziland and COMESA. The highly rated Chris Charter leads the team.
‘Great personal service.’
‘Comprehensive service which addresses the needs of the customer.’
‘Open communication and solution-oriented thinking.’
‘Chris Charter is a professor in his field. He has a deep understanding of the complexities of our business and his advice is premised on this understanding.’
‘Lara Granville is always available and quick to respond to matters. Her advice is always well considered. It is a pleasure to work with Lara.’
‘Andries le Grange is in my view, one of the best competition lawyers. He is always available and provides prompt, quality and practical advice when required. We have worked with Andries over several years and he has become one of our main go to competition lawyers.’
‘Susan Meyer has extensive experience and practical knowledge regarding the processes and has made, what is usually a very time consuming and frustrating process, very easy and hassle free.’
‘Susan Meyer has really taken the time to know and understand each of our clients’ businesses and this gives her the unique ability to provide practical and specific advice and insights.
‘Albert Aukema has a very practical approach to his legal advice. He understands the commercial realities of the business and provides advice which is not only sound but also practical to implement.’
‘Naasha Loopoo is professional, always available, friendly, reliable, honest, hard-working, practical, she is also always on top of her game and is up to date with current events in the competition space.‘
CONSTRUCTION | TIER 2
Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr continues to impress in front-end renewable energy engagements, and is also at the forefront of the dispute resolution field. It continues to be engaged by major South Africa parastatals and a number of private employers and developers. Joe Whittle leads the team and is a prominent figure in contentious construction matters, most recently in adjudications and arbitrations. Cape Town-based Timothy Baker provides further senior firepower in construction disputes and contracts (notably FIDIC); he is also English-qualified. The team was further enhanced by outstanding senior figure Clive Rumsey, who joined from Lawtons Africa in December 2020.
‘Quick turn around time, commercial acumen, thinking outside the box.’
‘The team always is always available to assist in any matter.’
‘Joe Whittle is very dependable. He is always available to assist with any matter. Joe is very thorough with attention to detail, just what is required for complex construction law matters.’
INVESTMENT FUNDS | TIER 3
Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr has a flourishing funds practice, aimed at major asset managers, mid-tier players and a number of start-ups. The firm is also active in limited partner-side engagements. It is also making a further impression in funds structuring for B-BBEE-compliant private equity funds. Cape Town director John Gillmer is an experienced funds specialist, who has played a pivotal role in pushing the firm into the funds limelight. Mark Linington is a recognised specialist in tax structuring in the private equity space.
‘Definitely industry experts in private equity fund agreements. Highly recommended.’
‘The CDH team are friendly, collegial, and a smart team of fund structuring lawyers.’
‘John Gilmer and Wayne Murray pay attention to detail and treat the client with the utmost respect. I value the relationship that I have built up with the team.’
‘John Gilmer and Wayne Murray respond to queries timeously, offer practical solutions to issues and go out of their way to assist in getting a transaction concluded.’
MINING | TIER 2
Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr has a prominent mining team that represents some of the biggest names in the industry, along with mid-tier players and market entrants. It continues to impress in mining M&A, regulatory matters and fund raising exercises. It remains active in Mining Charter-related engagements and environmental compliance, health and safety and black economic empowerment issues. Allan Reid is a leading figure in mining law engagements in South Africa and many other African jurisdictions. Vivien Chaplin has joined from Hogan Lovells (South Africa) to reinforce the transactional side of the practice. Environmental and regulatory lawyer Sandra Gore has left to become a consultant, though continues to work with the firm.
‘They are more than just lawyers and advisors, but rather business partners who try to help you resolve issues and find solutions.’
‘Strong technical expertise combined with commercial practicality. Exceptional partners backed up by very good senior associates.’
‘Allan Reid brings a great depth of experience to our file. His guidance has been invaluable. Allan is well versed in our industry and the types of issues we face. He is able to help us quickly assess and react to circumstances, which are usually quite dynamic.’
‘Allan Reid combines great knowledge with practical solutions. He has a long history with our company which makes him uniquely positioned to provide the correct advice.’
‘Ben Cripps has often been given complex and cumbersome tasks, which he has been able to manage and complete in a thorough manner. Ben has displayed a good understanding of the legal issues we have faced and is very talented.’
PROJECTS & INFRASTRUCTURE | TIER 2
Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr is making a further impression in projects across sub-Saharan Africa, including electricity and oil and gas projects and is also at the forefront of secondary market deals in the renewable energy sector. Embedded generation projects are another forte for the team. Jay Govender leads the team and has extensive experience across the projects and infrastructure sphere. Cape Town’s Megan Rodgers is a key figure in domestic and sub-Saharan oil and gas projects.
‘The team is practical and goal oriented.’
‘The approachability and attention to detail makes this practice unique.’
‘The depth of knowledge and technical expertise is unmatched.’
‘Jay Govender is a very professional and pleasant person to work with and she has been a key resource on many of our projects in the power sector. She has great knowledge about the legal and regulatory environments in the various countries in the SADC region.’
‘Megan Rodgers’ understanding of the oil and gas industry is second to none and she continuously outshines the competition.’
‘Megan Rodgers has been able to bring a commercial interpretation to industry matters, which has saved us thousands of dollars and time.’
‘Tessa Brewis is smart, quickly understands complex problems and is good at both big picture and small detail thinking. She is a practical negotiator who is no pushover, but is never unpleasant.
TAX & EXCHANGE CONTROL | TIER 2
Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr continues to be recognised for its work in the financial services sector and corporate transactions. It continues to work on a large number of M&A deals, including those by private equity clients. It expanded the team with the hire of Stephan Spamer and Howmera Parak from Baker McKenzie Johannesburg, bolstering the firm’s standing in international tax, transaction structuring, and M&A-related matters. The team is led by the highly-acclaimed Emil Brincker, a big name in the financial services sector, corporate reorganisations and restructurings, and major tax disputes. Gerhard Badenhorst is a leading indirect tax and VAT specialist and Mark Linington is at the forefront of fund structuring-related tax matters. Ludwig Smith is a senior figure with a long track record in hybrid financial instruments involving tax structuring challenges.
‘The CDH Tax team consists of various highly respected and competent tax professionals who are expert in their various areas of specialisation.’
‘Emil Brincker is widely recognised as one of the top tax professionals in South Africa.’
‘Emil Brincker is most probably the most astute tax advisor in South Africa. His ability to read situations and adapt is also second to none.’
‘The in depth VAT understanding of Gerhard Badenhorst is more than exceptional.’
‘Gerhard Badenhorst has impacted the course and direction of various indirect tax matters in South Africa in a positive way, being a highly skilled thought leader. He is accessible and supportive. A perfect business partner. I consider Gerhard to be above and beyond any competitor.’