Chairman: David Hertz
Chief Executive Officer: Jeremy Botha
Number of partners worldwide: 100+
Languages: Afrikaans, English, French, Mandarin
Werksmans’ over 200 lawyers, operating since the early 1900’s is a leading South African corporate and commercial law firm serving multinationals, listed companies, financial institutions, entrepreneurs and government. The firm is also connected to Lex Africa (founding member), an extensive African legal alliance and largest in Africa. A further footprint extends to its membership of the Interlex Group connecting leading law firms globally that provide a range of global legal services. With a formidable track record in mergers and acquisitions, banking and finance, commercial litigation and dispute resolution, the firm’s success is built on a solid foundation of insightful and innovative deal structuring and legal advice, a keen ability to understand business and economic imperatives and a strong focus on achieving the best legal outcome for clients.
Main Areas of Practice: Werksmans’ legal services span all economic sectors and business activities.
Consistently recognised by a diversity of independent, credible industry rankings, Werksmans has developed a reputation for ‘getting the deal done’. The team has in-depth experience in both public and private M&A work, as well as in private equity and international/cross-border transactions. All related areas of law, in fields such as taxation, exchange control, competition, environmental compliance, employment and black economic empowerment, are handled by specialists.
Commercial Litigation & Dispute Resolution:
Geared for rapid response, members of the firm’s litigation and dispute resolution practice can be called upon to resolve large-scale and complex litigation matters at short notice. This practice focuses on disputes that either reach the High Court or are resolved by way of mediation or arbitration. The firm is involved in many high-profile commercial litigation and arbitration matters in South Africa and internationally.
Other Areas of Specialisation Include:
Banking & Finance:
The transactional and regulatory lawyers in Werksmans’ banking and finance practice have led the way with complex transaction types and financial instruments now being used in South Africa. The team focuses on finding unique and simple solutions to complex legal issues that arise in banking and financing transactions, ranging from regulatory and documentation issues to tax and security issues.
Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE):
With each new legislative development, Werksmans’ dig deeper into origins to find solutions that speak to South Africa, taking into consideration the continent’s legal, economic, social and socio-political nuances. This is why their Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE) practice is one that, while addressing a need to provide expert advice in an extremely important field, also addresses its inherent desire to first serve the country. The BBBEE practice expertly advises on transactions for entities seeking to make a real difference to the South African economic transformation charter.
Business Crimes & Investigations:
Acts for entities in both the public and private sectors and is focused on the successful prevention, detection and investigation of economic crime. Services extend to assisting clients in managing their economic crime risks by developing pre-emptive compliance programmes and also conducting internal assessments and investigations.
Competition & Antitrust:
Has assisted a number of large corporates with the competition law aspects of mergers and acquisitions. The team also regularly advises on prohibited practices such as cartel conduct, bid rigging and abuses of dominance. The strength of the experienced competition practice is based on a complementary blend of legal and business skills, and a focus on finding practical solutions on clients’ behalf.
Construction & Engineering:
Comprises a multi-disciplinary team with a proven understanding of issues pertaining to the construction and engineering sectors covering several practice areas. This enables Werksmans to grasp the needs and concerns of all stakeholders in the engineering and construction value chain, ranging from employers, contractors and sub-contractors to professional teams and specialist consultants.
Advice is based on expert interpretation both of the South African data protection landscape, and the complexities brought on by cross-border transactions. Accurate interpretation of data protection law is critical not only within South Africa’s borders but also helps break down any barriers to international trade that may arise in instances of weak data privacy practices or legislation.
Infrastructure, Energy & Projects:
The team offers a combination of expertise in advising on infrastructure projects across all sectors, including the energy, road, rail, water, defence, technology and mining sectors. Energy clients include local and multinational organisations working on energy projects throughout Africa.
Healthcare & Life Sciences:
Has an in-depth understanding of South Africa’s evolving legislative and regulatory environment. This includes the black economic empowerment requirements of the Health Charter and the legal implications of the National Health Act and Consumer Protection Act.
Insolvency, Business Rescue & Restructuring:
Handles all aspects of business rescue and restructuring as well as insolvency and liquidation. The team’s expertise extends into African countries and international jurisdictions, with proceedings having been successfully instituted in many countries around the world.
Applies commercially-minded solutions to a wide range of IP and related issues. Acting for a variety of clients, the team crosses borders in Africa and internationally to register and protect clients’ trademarks, patents, designs, copyright, domain names and plant breeders’ rights.
Labour & Employment:
Advises corporates on all facets of employment, pension fund, and health and safety law. The team specialises in providing employment law advice in the context of international and local transactions with a particular focus on mergers and acquisitions and dispute resolution under the auspices of the various statutory dispute resolution forums.
The Werksmans Land Restitution practice provides multi-faceted advice that is sound enough to carry weighty land matters, while being keen enough to accurately isolate the exact peculiarities that may affect the client’s chances of success. From the Restitution of Land Rights Amendment Act, to the Property Valuators Bill, to the Expropriation Bill, lawyers apply innovative thinking to tackle complex matters in this sphere of law.
Media, Communications & Technology:
Operates in the rapidly changing and converging arena of telecommunications and broadcasting law and deals with a host of issues, ranging from licensing and regulatory issues, to complex commercial transactions. In terms of Werksmans’ technology practice, they act for large local and multinational clients across borders. Combining specialist commercial capabilities with information technology expertise, the team ensures that clients are fully aware of the legal issues arising from the development, procurement and use of technology in their organisations.
Mining, Environmental & Resources:
Has a well-established international network and extensive experience in structuring mining transactions to meet the requirements of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act. Mining clients include North American and Australian companies, as well as some of the major South African empowerment mining houses. They also deal with a comprehensive range of environmental issues, including land claims, mining rights, environmental compliance, regulation, waste and hazardous substance emissions and legal controls. Versatility is a hallmark of the team, which is able to address advisory, regulatory, compliance, contractual and transactional issues, as well as resolve and avoid potential disputes or litigate when disputes arise.
A practice of lawyers with exceptionally deep experience and exposure to some of the biggest transactions in South Africa and beyond. They have long advised private equity funds on all aspects of mergers and acquisitions activity with a client-centric approach that innovates at every turn. Through the Lex Africa alliance, they are exposed to a myriad of transactions across the continent, with knowledge of territorial dynamics providing the client with the best outcomes and creating value that cascades down the entire private equity chain.
Property & Real Estate:
Provides innovative solutions to the ever-changing circumstances in the market, whether from a legal or commercial perspective. Acting for property developers and financial institutions, the team offers the collective expertise of some of South Africa’s most experienced contractual and transactional lawyers.
Focuses on assisting corporates and high net worth individuals seeking comprehensive, up-to-date tax advice. Services range from consulting on the tax aspects of clients’ commercial dealings to interacting on their behalf with the tax authorities and, where necessary, dealing with objections and disputes.