It feels awkward an insignificant to write this article about ourselves during the same time as we are mourning about Madiba’s passing.

I would like to start off by saying that Van Der Merwe Attorneys could not be more grateful and appreciative for our clients’ support and trust throughout this past year.

2013 has been a very interesting year for us. We pursued three major ventures all of which were implemented successfully.

The first venture was to identify a BEE partner to join our firm. We were very fortunate that we were able to convince Mapulana Maponya to join us from March 2013, this assisted us enormously in becoming an audited level 1 BEE contributor, in addition to the added capacity and skills he brings into the firm.

The second venture was to open an office in Johannesburg. We were successful in finding the perfect location and space to widen our footprint in Gauteng. The location boasts huge prospects for future growth in respect of both local and international clients. The office opened for its first day of business in July, and although it was a fairly daunting challenge of suddenly having to operate from two geographically separated offices, with double the staff complement, the transition from a client perspective was seamless and we have enjoyed the endless benefits and opportunities which have resulted.

Our third venture entailed us gaining greater access to international clients. The idea came to us unsuspectingly in the form of a few unusual instructions which we received late last year and early this year from established and recognized international companies (based in Norway and Italy, respectively). We were fortunate to receive the latter instruction through PWC, and this credible source is something we are proud of, as the referred client is an Italian stock exchange listed company, with its own great experience with international law firms, and we managed to handle all their requirements swiftly and confidently. We thoroughly enjoyed our experience of working with expert businessmen and women from abroad.

The great experience we had with these two international firms inspired us to expand our access to international business and so we identified and joined a very reputable global association of top commercial law firms. The decision to join this international network has resulted in us attending two international meetings in Sao Paulo and San Francisco.

It is an extremely exciting prospect for us to be able to offer our clients global access to legal services, facilitating their needs on a much broader spectrum, as well as being able to provide them access to knowledge, best practices and personal access to international top tier commercial attorneys all over the world.

As a result of us joining this association and focusing on international work, we were forced to increase our knowledge on cross-border regulatory and tax implications and we now have a much more advance approach to handling cross-border transactions, having brushed up on our skills on corporate structuring involving resident and non-resident companies, and tax and exchange control regulations.

Celebration

In brief we were privileged to have facilitated commercial transactions on behalf of companies from the following countries:

·         Norway

·         Italy

·         United Kingdom (x 2)

·         Netherlands

·         Spain (x 2)

·         Hong Kong (x 2)

·         Mauritius

·         Switzerland

Apart from our successful ventures, we managed to raise our position on the Dealmakers ratings and are currently number 4 for deal flow in South Africa and number 5 for Deal value in South Africa for 2013.

However, all was not perfect – we did experience some minor uphill issues this year, mostly in regard to the integration of the two offices, however we learned from our experiences, improved where we had to and forgot about the rest. We have our eyes and focus keenly on the horizon.

We also received more invitations to present on commercial law topics at legal conferences as well as offered training courses to corporate legal departments, upholding our reputation as experts and thought leaders in our field.

We are again grateful that our clients trust us to add value to their businesses and their transactions.

Our focus for 2014 will be to build on the ventures we implemented in 2013.

We look forward to your further and much appreciated support.