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London-based commercial and private client firm Bishop & Sewell has formed an association with Zimbabwe firm Stumbles & Rowe, which last year successfully defended hundreds of farmers against President Robert Mugabe's attempts to seize their land.
The two firms have been working together closely over the past 12 months, obtaining compensation for farmers that have had their assets expropriated, and negotiating with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in order to establish commercial agricultural projects in southern Africa.
"We'll be working with Stumbles & Rowe and commercial farmers in Zimbabwe in order to obtain aid through UNDP so those farmers can re-establish commercial businesses in southern Africa," said Matthew Coleman, head of litigation at Bishops. He also said the firms would look to bring action on behalf of those farmers whose properties had been expropriated.
The relationship first developed after the two firms were instructed by a mutual client in the region. The agreement will see them refer all work where possible.
Clients of the two firms are based both in the UK and Africa, and include CDC Group, a company that provides private equity and risk capital for businesses investing in emerging markets.