Awards host Peter Ndoro (left) and awards judge Gail Evans, Steinmueller Africa (far right), with the AFGRI Group legal team

Finalists: African Legal Support Facility; Life Healthcare Group (Highly Commended); Procter & Gamble; SAB and InBev Africa Zone; The National Research Foundation.

African agricultural services provider AFGRI Group saw its in-house legal team pick up the Small Legal Department of the Year award for a number of notable achievements, not least guiding the company through its acquisition of the South African Bank of Athens.

AFGRI’s legal department – which comprises three legal advisers and a general counsel – were responsible for leading the due diligence process, drafting the offer letter and negotiating the share purchase agreement with the seller, as well as successfully filing various banking licence applications in South Africa (an impressive feat given the majority of applications fail; only four banking licences have been granted in the last four years).

The legal department was also heavily involved in the group’s restructuring process in South Africa, to create two separate companies focused on agriculture and food. And a revamp of the way it manages and charges clients for conveyancing has enabled the legal team to turn a profit for the wider business, bringing in from admin fees more than double what it costs to run the department.

“Very few, if any, in-house legal teams can claim that they are a profit centre – through the innovative conveyancing fees project, AFGRI Legal achieved exactly that,” said the group’s CEO Chris Venter.

To return to the full list of winners, click here.