Christoff Pienaar

Christoff Pienaar

National Practice Head, Director

Christoff is a Director and the National Head of our Technology, Media and Telecommunications practice. He is dual-qualified (South Africa and England & Wales). He advises on commercial, information technology, data protection and intellectual property law. He has particular expertise in advising on fintech-related matters, the implementation of payment systems/products, outsourcing, software development and licensing, commercial joint venture arrangements, cloud-based arrangements, commercialisation of intellectual property, agency and distribution agreements, technology transfers and general commercial contracts.

Christoff has a wealth of experience advising clients operating in the financial services industry as well as in the healthcare industry.

t +27 (0)21 481 6350 f +27 (0)21 481 5250

Christoff started his legal career as an Associate at Edward Nathan in 2003. He was employed by Barclays Bank plc (UK) in 2005 as Legal Counsel in their Corporate and Commercial department. During 2006 he joined Wedlake Bell LLP in London as a Solicitor and was promoted to Partner during 2009. In 2012 he returned to South Africa and joined Webber Wentzel as a Partner. He subsequently joined Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr as a Director in 2015.


  • Advising a South African bank on the agreements relating to the development, implementation and support of a new payment gateway.
  • Advising a South African software vendor on its licensing and royalty arrangements in Africa as well as the transfer of certain intellectual property rights to an offshore structure.
  • Advising a European based software vendor in respect of the appointment of a reseller in South Africa.
  • Advising a pension fund administrator on the agreements relating to the development, implementation and support of a new pension fund administration system.
  • Advising a major life insurer on a number of IT agreements between service providers/licensors and subsidiaries in Africa (Nigeria, Kenya, Malawi and Zimbabwe).
  • Advising a short-term insurer in respect of an IT outsourcing transaction.
  • Advising on the legal aspects of the establishment of the first health information exchange in South Africa.
  • Advising a mobile operator in respect of a major procurement and logistics outsourcing transaction.


  • Advised a major life insurer on the development and implementation of an IT system that will support the roll-out and administration of a number of new financial and investment products in 8 African jurisdictions.
  • Advised a major life insurer on the licensing, customisation and implementation of a policy administration system in South Africa, Kenya, Malawi, Namibia and Zimbabwe.
  • Advised a prominent short-term insurer with operations in South Africa, Botswana and Namibia on an outsourcing transaction involving the outsourcing of desktop support, data centre, LAN (local area network), WAN (wide area network), IP telephony and help desk services.
  • Advised a major life insurer on the development and implementation of an IT system to support its medical scheme administration business.
  • Advised a provider of mobile payment solutions in respect of a number of transaction and payment processing agreements.
    Advised a prominent medical scheme administrator on the development and implementation of an IT system (including the development of a mobile application) to support its claim submission processes.


  • Advising a South African bank on the agreements relating to the development and implement of three new mobile payment products.
  • Advising a major South African life insurer on the agreements relating to the customisation, integration and support of a new policy administration system.
  • Advising a South African bank on the agreements relating to the development and implementation of a new banking platform.
  • Advising a prominent English Premier League football club on the distribution of its merchandise in South Africa.
  • Advising a provider on technology solutions to the telecommunications industry on a number of licensing and services arrangements in Kenya, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Egypt and Swaziland.
  • Advising a provider of mobile banking security solutions on a number of licensing, services and commercial joint venture arrangements in South Africa, Europe and the USA.
  • Advising a licensed securities exchange on the agreements relating to the development, customisation and implementation of a trading platform as well as the contractual arrangements with a transfer secretary and nominee service provider.
  • Advising a provider of in-flight retail services on the contractual arrangements with a number of international airlines.
  • Advising on distribution and agency agreements for a number of international brands.
  • Advising a medical schemes administrator on the agreements relating to the development and implementation of a new administration and claims management system.
  • Advising a number of well-known global brands on intellectual property licencing arrangements in South Africa and a number of jurisdictions in Africa.
  • Advising a major international provider of card and payment services on joint venture and co-development arrangements.
  • Chambers Fintech 2020 Edition ranked Christoff in Band 1. 
  • Chambers Global 2019 Fintech Legal Guide ranks Christoff in Band 1
  • Chambers Global 2018-2020 ranked Christoff in Band 3: IT & Telecommunications
  • Ranked in Chambers UK 2010 and 2011.
  • In the 2010 edition of Chambers UK, Christoff was described as “very commercially aware, understands the needs of IT companies, and always has a broad view of the goals of the business.”
  • Described as an “outstanding negotiator” in Legal 500 UK 2011.
  • Winner of the 2017 and 2018 Client Choice International Award for the IT and Internet category for South Africa.
  • Best Lawyers International 2019 listed Christoff for Telecommunications Law.


  • Liquidated damages: a commercial justification - Corporate Briefing, 2 October 2010

Describes the circumstances in which liquidated damages are available as a remedy for breach of contract and explains when a liquidated damages clause may be regarded as a penalty clause and therefore unenforceable. Comments on the Commercial Court judgment in Azimut-Benetti SpA v Healey on whether a liquidated damages clause in a contract for building a yacht, which enabled the builder to terminate the contract and recover 20 per cent of the contract price if the purchaser defaulted on payment, amounted to an unenforceable penalty or was commercially justifiable.

  • SOFTWARE AS A SERVICE (SaaS) - LICENSING CONSIDERATIONS - Federation Against Software Theft ,1 June 2010

The SaaS model for the deployment of software applications is already a mainstream solution in today's market and it holds many benefits for both service providers and customers, but there are many legal aspects to be aware of as this is a significant deviation from the traditional software licence.

  • ‘Greater Force’ - or a Good Excuse for Non-performance? - The Society for Computers and Law, 17 April 2007

Christoff Pienaar looks at force majeure and its effect on contracts. Bearing in mind that force majeure clauses inserted into outsourcing and IT services could seriously undermine a customer’s disaster recovery plans, the concept of ‘greater force’ needs to be very fully understood.

  • Outsourcing – Managing the Risks associated with Third Party Intellectual Property Rights - Corporate Briefing – Information 1 June 2009

The current economic conditions are predicted to drive greater demand for outsourcing. Many organisations which have so far ignored the benefits of outsourcing are being forced to revisit it because of current financial constraints and liquidity problems. As outsourcing involves the transfer by an organisation of an in-house function to an external service provider for the ongoing provision of those services, the appointed service provider (and potentially its subcontractors) will have access to, and will in many cases be using, intellectual property rights vesting in the organisation or licensed to the organisation by third parties.

Intellectual property that may be transferred to the service provider may include data, processes, trade secrets, know-how as well as confidential information and other copyrighted works, some of which may vest in third parties (and some of which may be subject to confidentiality restrictions that prevent even the agreement from being shown to the service provider).

  • Intellectual Property Warranties in Commercial Contracts - Society of Computers and Law, 16 October 2011

In the latest article in our Back to Basics series, Christoff Pienaar looks at IP warranties and some of the issues that go with the transfer of IP rights.

  • Contributed the chapter on warranties and indemnities in the Globe Law and Business publication entitled "IP Issues in Corporate Transactions" published in 2015


  • BA (Law and Politics), LLB, Dip Advanced (Banking), University of Johannesburg
  • Attorney of the High Court of South Africa
  • Solicitor of the Senior Courts of England and Wales
  • Enrolled with the Legal Practice Council


  • Law Society of England & Wales
  • Society of Computers and Law
All Podcasts