Finalists: Ashburton Investments; HSBC Bank; Procter & Gamble (highly commended)
AFGRI Group’s in-house legal unit scooped the Legal Department of the Year (Small Team) prize for its shrewd budget management in the face of cost-cutting pressures across the group.
The team – which comprises a GC, three lawyers and one PA – was being asked to service an increased volume of M&A, banking and general corporate finance transactions. Given that those transaction areas typically result in higher external legal spend, it had to devise a strategy to meet these needs without impacting on the budget.
That involved keeping all transaction-agreement drafting in-house, regardless of the size and profile of the deal, as well as standardising documents and introducing self-service tools for clients so the legal team was not wasting time on routine or less important matters.
The success was immediate: the team’s external legal spend came in significantly below budget. It also reduced litigation expenses for the third year in a row.
“Their technical ability to draft and implement complex and high profile transactions in-house, without sacrificing the quality of the documentation, is remarkable,” said Chris Venter, the group’s chief executive.
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