South Africa’s Top 10 Influential Environmental Lawyers to Watch in 2023

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South Africa is home to a wide variety of unique environments from the Kalahari desert to the fertile farmlands of the Western Cape. However, these regions are facing a range of environmental challenges including climate change and pollution. One of the ways in which these issues are being addressed is through legal action, and the country has a growing number of lawyers specializing in environmental law. These professionals not only work to protect our planet but also help businesses navigate the complex legal landscape associated with environmental regulations. Let us learn more about some of them.

Andrew Gilder

With a specialization in climate law, Andrew Gilder from Climate Legal is highly respected for his expertise in environmental governance as well as climate finance and tax. Based in Johannesburg, Andrew has been a key figure in the development of South Africa’s legal regime in the environmental field.

Garyn Rapson

Rising through the ranks this year following extensive client feedback is Garyn Rapson at Webber Wentzel. Known for his extensive environmental work in the mining space, Garyn advises on various issues including carbon offsetting, permits, and compliance. His guidance on environmental liability and acquisitions is sought after in Johannesburg.

Nicholas Smith

Nicholas Smith is an accomplished environmental lawyer without a firm internet presence. Based in Cape Town, he extends his services in providing compliance advice to clientele, while also efficiently representing them before the courts. Nicholas’ areas of expertise cover noise pollution, remediation, and other environmental issues.

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Tina Costas

Heading the environmental practice at Norton Rose Fulbright is Tina Costas. Based in Durban, she regularly provides advice on environmental risk and liability related to transactions and development projects. She is also proficient in advising on waste management plans.

Olivia Rumble

Olivia Rumble from Climate Legal specializes in climate and energy law. Based in Cape Town, she is well-known for her deep understanding of carbon markets and finance, her grasp on governance issues, and her experience advising on water law and sustainable energy practices.

Lloyd Christie

Lloyd Christie from White & Case LLP owns a highly respected mining and environmental law practice. Known for his significant experience representing both government agencies and regulators, Lloyd is making a difference in the environmental space.

Helen Dagut

Helen Dagut, functioning as an independent Environmental Law Consultant in Cape Town, is renowned for her advice on compliance and environmental liability. Besides these, she provides expertise on impact studies and commercial environmental matters.

Cormac Cullinan

Operating from Cape Town, Cormac Cullinan from Cullinan & Associates is a sought-after figure in the environmental space. He skillfully represents businesses, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and community groups in high-profile public interest disputes on a wide range of environmental issues.

Catherine Warburton

Based in Johannesburg, Catherine Warburton provides expert advice to a wide array of international and domestic energy and mining clients. Her extensive expertise lies in environmental regulatory compliance, as well as environmental due diligence and disputes.

Michael Vermaak

Michael Vermaak from Bowmans provides expert guidance on environmental compliance, especially in relation to commercial transactions. Based in Johannesburg, he is equipped to deal with corporate clients from various sectors, including agriculture and finance.

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In conclusion, these environmental attorneys stand at the forefront of the fight to protect South Africa’s diverse ecosystems. Their work not only impacts the health and preservation of the natural environment, but it also helps to guide businesses through the complex maze that is environmental legislation.



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