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English Law Finance Team

Our local English Law team in South Africa

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CMS South Africa is a young law firm with a long history. It was established in 2018 by experienced and diverse international lawyers working with global firms to establish a new kind of commercial legal business focusing on Southern Africa. Most of our lawyers have worked in some of the largest commercial hubs in the world. Our objectives are to provide the highest quality legal services in our areas of expertise, develop local talent and support economic transformation. We currently have around 40 lawyers and have established relationships with law firms in the region that share similar objectives.

Team members are fluent in English, French, Swahili and Portuguese and have common law and civil law backgrounds. We have a dedicated group of English qualified solicitors who regularly advise on English law governed financing transactions involving parties or assets located in Sub-Saharan Africa. Our lawyers can draft and review loan and security documentation, assist in structuring transactions, issue legal opinions and provide general English law advice. We work with documentation that is based on models prepared by industry organisations, such as LMA and ISDA, but also draft tailor-made agreements.

Our location means that we are more familiar with local circumstances and practices than Europe-based firms and our pricing provides better value for money.

Our team is known for its versatility, creativity and agility and can assist on a wide range of finance or finance related matters such as:

  • acquisition and leveraged finance
  • asset finance
  • capital markets
  • commodity and trade finance
  • derivatives
  • export finance
  • financial markets, regulation and compliance  
  • mining and resource finance
  • project finance
  • structured finance
  • syndicated lending 

Our clients 

Our clients include banks, institutional and financial investors, corporates, DFIs, law firms, guarantee funds, credit insurers, national and international development bodies and institutions and governments and public authorities.

Our coverage 

We can assist with transactions involving all Sub-Saharan countries. Our recent experience includes advising on transactions involving Angola, Botswana, Eswatini, Ghana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. 

Our local and global services 

Our firm also has strong teams in the following practice areas: commercial contracts, corporate, dispute resolution, funds, market regulation and compliance, tax, technology and white-collar crime. 

Being part of the global CMS network, we are supported by over 70 offices globally and have offices in Algeria, Angola, Kenya and Morocco. We have moreover established a network of firms in other African countries.

Moreover, the immensely experienced Pieter van Welzen has joined as a senior consultant from Clifford Chance to provide further weight to the team, including in Africa-wide transactions.

Legal 500 | Banking & Finance | South Africa 2021

I would say that compared to other firms in the market they are more entrepreneurial and business focused

Legal 500 | Banking & Finance | South Africa 2021

One client describes him as a "super all-rounder and one of the brightest people I know." Others value his "broader view and ability to think outside the box"

Chambers | Europe, 2019, Capital Markets: Securitisation – Netherlands

CMS has developed a notable profile and market share in South Africa's banking space. The firm represents a range of borrowers and lenders, including major South African banks and international development finance institutions. The group possesses expertise covering private placements and preference shares, project financing and debt restructuring, among other matters. It has additional capabilities on which the South African practice can draw, from across its network of global offices.

Chambers & Partners, Banking & Finance, South Africa, 2023

Strengths include "handled complex matters with speedy turnaround, and with a good balance between the legal versus the pragmatic".

Chambers & Partners, Banking & Finance, South Africa, 2023

Strengths include "were able to conclude the requisite transactions in record time, largely due to the very strong service levels of CMS".

Chambers & Partners, Banking & Finance, South Africa, 2023

They are very knowledgeable, efficient and professional. They specialise in corporate, commercial and banking law and have an excellent track record.

Chambers & Partners, South Africa, 2024

The firm handled complex matters with speedy turnaround, and with a good balance between the legal versus the pragmatic.

Chambers & Partners, South Africa, 2024

We were able to conclude the requisite transactions in record time, largely due to the very strong service levels of CMS.

Chambers & Partners, South Africa, 2024
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