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Ernie Lai King

Head of Tax and Asia Practice

Ernie Lai King

Ernie Lai King heads our Johannesburg tax department and the African-Asia Practice. He has over 30 years’ experience as a tax practitioner, focusing on mergers and acquisitions (local and cross-border), dispute resolution, opinions, structured finance and international tax. 

Having served as the group tax consultant of two major listed Top 20 companies over a period of 16 years, he has extensive experience in the commercial sector.

Ernie is past deputy chairman and chairman of the South African Chamber of Business Tax Committee and sits as a council board member of the South African Institute of Tax Practitioners.

He was appointed as a member of the Income Tax Special Court of Appeal (a State President appointment) in 1993, and engages with the Commissioner’s Office of the SA Revenue Services and National Treasury on general tax matters, tax policy and new tax legislation prior to their promulgation into law.  Prior to the introduction of Capital Gains Tax (CGT) into South Africa, he was invited to participate in nationwide seminars on CGT conducted by the Office of the Commissioner of the South African Revenue Service (SARS), with specific implication of the impact of CGT on trusts.

As a recognised and respected thought leader Ernie is frequently seen on TV and quoted in the media on tax and economic issues.

Ernie has been recommended in Chambers Global, Legal 500 and in Who’s Who Legal; received the DealMakers Annual Awards 2013 for Individual DealMaker of the Year (SA); has been recognised from 2009-2017 in The Best Lawyers of South Africa for Tax; and was ranked in the Tax Directors’ Handbook.


“Ernie Lai King is widely respected for his proficiency in a diverse array of sector-related concerns, with significant strength in corporate reorganisations, M&A and international tax matters. Clients proclaim themselves to be ‘very impressed by his knowledge of tax’."

Chambers Global

Representative Experience

Project lead advisor to Hebei Iron and Steel Group in its investment strategy into South Africa - ZAR50-100bn.

Project lead advisor to China FOMA in its proposed joint venture with the South African Forestry Company Limited - ZAR10-20bn.

Project lead advisor to a Chinese investor in the Coal of Africa Makhado Project - £9.4m equity investment and US$10m loan.

Project lead advisor to Shanghai Zendai Property Group in the acquisition of 1 600 hectares of land for ZAR1bn from chemicals group AECI.

Project lead advisor to StarTimes Television Group (Beijing) in the acquisition of a 20% share worth ZAR1bn of TopTV/On Digital Media.

Advising a major South African private equity firm in regularising its offshore structure.

Assisting a South African company with its listing in Hong Kong.

Advising on the largest tax dispute in South Africa.

Education and admissions


  • MBL, University of South Africa, 1993
  • HDip Tax Law, University of the Witwatersrand, 1987
  • BCompt (Hons), University of South Africa, 1983
  • BSc, University of the Witwatersrand, 1978


  • 2015 Reappointed as Member of the Income Tax Special Court of Appeal
  • 2014 Council Board Member of SA Institute of Tax Professionals
  • 2009-2010 Past Council Member of St John’s College
  • 2002 Past Board Member Arbitration Foundation of SA
  • 1992-2007 Past Member of Income Tax Special Court of Appeal
  • 1991-1995 Past Chairman: of SA Chamber of Business, Tax Committee
  • 1987-1990 Past Vice Chairman: SA Chamber of Business, Tax Committee



The Best Lawyers of South Africa for Tax


Recommended for Tax

Legal 500


Individual DealMaker of the Year (SA)

DealMakers Annual Awards


Recommended for Corporate Tax

Who’s Who Legal




Tax Consultants

Chambers Global

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