Bowman Gilfillan’s maritime, transport and logistics practice area has announced that one of Durban’s leading maritime law firms, Velden Pike Nichols, will be joining the Bowman Gilfillan Africa Group with effect from 1 August this year.
Bowman Gilfillan Partner, Craig Cunningham, commented: “With a substantial Cape Office that services that city’s maritime, transport and logistics sectors, as well as those in Saldanha Bay, this transaction gives Bowman Gilfillan a physical presence in Durban from where we are also able to serve the important Richards Bay market.
“We’ve been able to consolidate and expand our maritime, logistics and transport offering to clients who will also benefit from the combined experience of leading maritime practitioners at Velden Pike Nichols joining the Bowman Gilfillan team.
“In the process, we’ve enhanced our capacity to deal with the high profile and complex matters our clients sometimes face, for example trade disputes, ship casualties or port regulatory issues.”
Velden Pike Nichols has three partners - Mark van Velden, Andrew Pike and Trudie Nichols - as well as one senior associate, four associates, one candidate attorney and four support staff, all of whom will join the Bowman Gilfillan team.
Durban and Richards Bay are the country’s most important commercial ports, with Durban the busiest by number of vessel calls and where many shipping and logistics companies and other maritime industry players have their head offices. Durban also provides a gateway to the East African and Indian Ocean Island maritime and logistics markets.
Richards Bay is the third busiest port by number of vessel calls, but is the top port measured by cargo moved by volume. Cape Town and Saldanha Bay are South Africa’s other major ports.
Bowman Gilfillan’s maritime, transport and logistics practice area represents a number of South African and international clients, in many cases ship owners and their third-party and hull insurers. The firm represents international banks involved in shipping finance and various support entities within the maritime sector. Velden Pike Nichols services a similar client base and in many cases the same clients, all of whom will benefit from the expertise of the combined team, under the Bowman Gilfillan banner, covering ports along the entire coast of South Africa.
Looking ahead, Mr Cunningham said the intention is to expand the maritime, transport and logistics practice area at Bowman Gilfillan further into the area of transport logistics and international trade, with a focus on resources.
Where the broader firm is concerned, he said: “Given our expansion into Africa where the fast pace of infrastructure development is being driven largely by substantial oil and gas finds and other commodities, our offices in those jurisdictions have an opportunity to provide legal services in respect of logistics, ports and other infrastructure development.
Velden Pike Nichols will bring to Bowman Gilfillan specific expertise in the development of port, terminal and transport infrastructure to complement the construction and infrastructural expertise of the Bowman Gilfillan Africa Group in the non-marine spheres.