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Hogan Lovells responds to 'boycott' claim

20 February 2018

South Africa

Press Contacts

Pam Christie

Senior Public Relations Manager
+44 20 7296 2132

Rachael Warren

Senior Public Relations Adviser
+44 20 7296 2780

Statement by Lavery Modise, Chairman of Hogan Lovells, South Africa

In recent weeks, our firm has been attacked by Lord Hain and Paul O'Sullivan. Their latest move is to call for a boycott.

They accuse us of facilitating state capture and white-washing corruption at SARS because we represented the South African Revenue Service (SARS) in a disciplinary enquiry that did not result in the dismissal of the relevant employee, Mr. Jonas Makwakwa.

Both have made lots of accusations and demands. Calling for a boycott is an increasing desperate tactic as neither have provided any substance to their claims. Neither has presented anything resembling real evidence in their letters or statements to the House of Lords or the press. They should be continually challenged to produce it. If there is none, Lord Hain and Mr. O'Sullivan should apologise to us and immediately stop their sensationalist statements. False allegations do not become true simply because you repeat them.

Mr. O'Sullivan and Lord Hain are claiming guilt by accusation and association - that if you advise a client who is unpopular or found guilty or has a particular political view or other agenda then you also must somehow be unpopular, guilty, or share that political view or agenda. This logic deliberately misunderstands the role of lawyers in our society.

As we transition to a new government in our country it is important that the rule of law underpins all that we do and we look forward to a fair and just examination of the facts. We would welcome any examination of our work, our conduct, and our fees by the appropriate competent authorities in our country including the Law Society of South Africa, the South African Parliament, the Auditor General, and our new President.

Despite providing him with detailed answers to his questions, Lord Hain refuses to engage with us. The key facts are:

  1. We did not selectively limit or ignore a part of our labour law mandate or abuse legal processes to achieve a pre-determined outcome. The scope of our mandate was to investigate employee-related (rather than criminal or tax evasion) allegations.
  2. The report that our firm produced did not exonerate Mr. Makwakwa relating to criminal or tax evasion allegations and any statement to the contrary by anyone is false. On the contrary, it recommended the institution of disciplinary proceedings specifically for non-disclosure of external business interests to his employer and the contravention of his suspension conditions. Any reliance on a contrary statement is simply unfounded.
  3. The disciplinary proceedings were chaired by an independent senior counsel Terry Motau SC. We produced all the evidence that was available to us and he made an independent finding.
  4. We advised SARS that should the outcome of the ongoing investigations being undertaken by the Hawks and PwC reveal a contravention by Mr. Makwakwa of tax legislation or the commission of any offence or crime, this would constitute misconduct on his part which would need to be the subject of further disciplinary proceedings.
  5. The disciplinary proceedings had to occur within the maximum timelines permitted by South African labour law.
  6. We have produced all the evidence that was lawfully available to us and admissible.
  7. We did not earn fat fees from this mandate. We charged discounted rates in accordance with a prescribed panel-tariff.

We are committed advocates against corruption and the wrongful actions of the state. We have worked closely with the South Africa Council of Churches on its Unburdening Panel and with the SACC National Convention in creating a dialogue to bring solutions to the corruption and state capture crisis facing our country. We have also worked with Parliament’s Rule of Law Advisory team to create a platform to communicate to citizens the understanding of the rule of law in South Africa. At the same time, we provide a free legal clinic to provide advice to the victims of police brutality, have been unlawfully arrested or detained and to provide information/education on the powers of the police. We are proud of our contribution and are committed to continuing these initiatives in the future.

Further details are set out in the attached briefing paper document.


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