By Onozure Dania
Global leaders in legal research, ratings and rankings, Legal 500 Europe, Middle East and Africa has identified Nigeria’s commercial law firm, ülex as a top-tier firm in four key practice areas, out of five areas featured in the 2015 edition of its ranking for Nigeria and Africa.
The areas include, Corporate and Mergers and Acquisition; Dispute Resolution; Energy and Natural Resources; Shipping and Transport; and Banking and Finance. üLEX was the only firm ranked in all categories, with four of its partners listed as “leading individuals” in various areas of specialisation.
Firm Partner, Mrs Funke Adekoya, SAN, was recognised as a “leading individual” with ‘experience, knowledge and a strong court presence’. Some of her outstanding cases as recognised by Legal 500 include; acting for a South African retailer and its local subsidiary against a claim for breach of contract, loss of economic opportunity and economic interference with a contract; defending Rusal against claims of conspiracy and interference with the bidding process for Nigeria’s Aluminum Smelter, and representing General Electric in an appeal before the Supreme Court in respect of a master services agreement.
Mr Soji Awogbade was recognised for his ‘timely wisdom during negotiations’ while Sina Sipasi was described as ‘commercial and thorough’. Their recent transactions include; acting as Nigerian legal counsel to Seven Energy in acquisition of petroleum assets, acting for Addax Petroleum (a Sinopec subsidiary) regarding tax matters and advising a syndicate of banks on a $750m reserved based lending facility for the acquisition of petroleum assets.
Mr Lawrence Anga and Theophilus Emuwa were described as being ‘at the top level of corporate and commercial practice in Nigeria.
It read, “Anga gets marks for ‘a rich understanding of the market and its issues and key players, and he practically applies the law for optimal outcomes’ while Akinloye Ajayi is ‘brilliant and a true pleasure to work with.”
Some of the team’s transactions include; acting as sole Nigerian counsel to a UK-based private equity fund in its $14m buyout of a manufacturer and advising a South African-owned target during the sale of its business to an oil service company.
Legal 500 rankings are based on a series of criteria; highlighting the practice area of teams who are providing the most cutting edge and innovative advice to corporate counsel. Researches are based on feedback from clients worldwide, submissions from law firms and interviews with leading private practice lawyers, as well as a team of researchers who have unrivalled experience in the legal market.
In the last 25 years, Legal 500 Europe, Middle East and Africa has remained one of the world’s largest independent legal referral guides; providing readers with an annually updated, impartial, third-party opinion on the leading law firms and lawyers in countries across the region. Currently, it provides researched coverage of almost 80 countries and more than 3,300 law firms across the globe.
Speaking to BD’s Legalbusiness, Soji Awogbade explained some of the dynamics of the firm’s success.
“One of the driving factors in the formation of our firm was a desire to organise our business around practice areas in the Nigerian legal services market. This was intended to deepen expertise in the areas in which constituent firms were already well-known and accepted by the market. Since then, we have stuck to this mantra and the Legal 500 Europe, Middle East and Africa publication is a validation of our strategy,” he said.
In the same vein, Aelex has also been named the Nigerian Law Firm of the year 2015, in the ‘Who Showlegal’ 2015 country and state awards.
Every year, Who’s Who Legal issues awards to individuals and firms that have performed exceptionally well after a comprehensive, independent survey work with both general counsel and private practice lawyers worldwide. They identify a lawyer and a firm of the year in featured practice areas; and awards are issued to the leading firms in over 60 jurisdictions. Aelex has been shortlisted as the Nigerian Firm of the year 2015.