Werksmans is South Africa’s sole representative in the GAR 100.
- Who’s Who Name:
- Des Williams
The Johannesburg firm merged a few years ago with the Cape Town firm Jan S de Villiers. In the process, its dispute resolution team grew from 60 lawyers to 75. It has lawyers on the ground in Johannesburg, Cape Town, Tyger Valley, Stellenbosch and Paarl. In addition, the firm can act as a gateway to other dependable advisers around the continent through the Lex Africa legal network, of which it was co-founder. The network has members in 25 countries.
More importantly, it’s home to Des Williams QC, the firm’s chairman and previously head of the dispute resolution group as well as IBA committee officer. Through Williams, the firm was counsel to South African wireless provider Telkom in a long-running “breach of contract” dispute with the US’s Telcordia. That matter began with an ICC claim in 2001 and also spilled out into the local courts. The case finally settled in July 2010, with Telkom paying about half of what the other side originally claimed.
The team has also worked for a large property developer in an arbitral matter – a dispute about “an agreement to agree” against the backdrop of an arbitration clause – and the Premier Soccer League in a dispute about broadcasting rights.
In 2010, the sound of the vuvuzela granted South Africa the ears of the world. In an article available on the GAR website, Des Williams – director of the Arbitration Foundation of South Africa – offered his views on whether the country would rise to prominence in international arbitration, on the back of the raised profile it won after the FIFA World Cup.
Who’s Who nominee:
- Des Williams