Law firm Denton Wilde Sapte has topped GTR’s readers “poll of the best law firms in trade finance for the second year running while also winning the Chambers Awards of the world’s leading lawyers for “Law Firm of the Year for Africa “It was also a joint runner up for “Law Firm of the Year for the Middle East “at the same awards ceremony which took place at the Park Lane Hilton in London on May 6, 2004.

In the GTR readers poll, Clyde & Co has risen meteorically from eighth last year to second place, with Lovells staying put at third. Linklaters has dropped from second place last year to joint fourth with Stephenson Harwood – a firm that didn ‘t even make the top 10 last year.

Clifford Chance has slipped from last year’s seventh place to tenth, while Norton Rose has risen from outside last year’s top 15 to 11th place this year.

US firm Sullivan & Worcester has also risen from outsider last year to joint seventh this year, while compatriot Pilsbury Winthrop has dropped three places to 12th alongside falling White & Case, which last year stood at fourth place.

GTR readers were simply asked in the poll who they believed the best law firm undertaking trade finance business (both contentious and non-contentious law) was.

Results were as follows:

1 Denton Wilde Sapte

2 Clyde & Co

3 Lovells

4 Linklaters

= Stephenson Harwood

6 Baker & McKenzie

7 Allen & Overy

= Sullivan & Worcester

9 Mayer Brown Rowe & Maw

10 Clifford Chance

11 Norton Rose

12 Pilsbury Winthrop

= White & Case

13 Simmons & Simmons

= Slaughter and May

15 Ince & Co


Partner at Dentons, Charles Morrison, delighted at both accolades, says these results show the commitment and hard work put in by the firm over the years in building up a true professional niche in the trade finance arena, especially where Africa deals are concerned. “African projects and trade deals are where we feel we have a real specialism and the market is recognising this,” he comments.

Director of Africa for the firm, Paul Bugingo, likewise adds that winning the Chambers award is evidence of the sheer hard graft and time invested in building up real Africa expertise and an unrivalled Africa presence.

The firm has a dedicated Africa team based in London, an office in Cairo and a network of associate offices in Botswana, Ghana, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.

The firm has been seen in an increasing number of African financings over recent years, ranging from trade deals (including large oil financings) to infrastructure projects and major privatisations. Recent highlights include their continuing role advising the arrangers on the Ghana Cocobod transaction; advising the Zambia privatisation agency on the sale of Zambia National Commercial Bank; and acting for Mozambique’s state-owned oil company in a US$1.8bn deal to develop the country’s natural gasfields.