African Legal Awards Competition and Regulatory Team of the Year: Webber Wentzel

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(L-R) Daryl Dingley, head of competition; and Mmadika Moloi, partner, Webber Wentzel

Finalists: Anjarwalla & Khanna; Baker McKenzie; Bowmans; ENSafrica; Hogan Lovells; Werksmans (Highly Commended)

Webber Wentzel was voted the Competition and Regulatory Team of the Year for its victory in Comair’s long-running damages claim against South African Airways for breaching competition rules. The case took 14 years to prosecute and involved extensive economic analysis and complex legal arguments as to the impact South African Airways’ conduct (running an incentive scheme that discouraged travel agents from dealing with rival airlines, abusing its position of dominance) had on Comair’s business.

The High Court ruling – only the second successful follow-on damages claim brought under the Competition Act – resulted in Comair being awarded damages, including interest and costs, that came to around ZAR1.15bn (£60m). Given that the first successful damages claim had not been resolved before this case went to trial, Webber Wentzel had to develop innovative and novel legal strategies to advance Comair’s claims, underscoring its reputation as the leading authority on South African competition law.

The firm says the judgment is significant not only for the size of the damages awarded to its client but also because it will likely serve as a precedent in future cases brought under the act. “A landmark ruling in a high-profile case,” commented a judge.

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