Dentons agrees new Ghana relationship after former ally chooses independence

Dentons has split up with its Ghanaian ally Bentsi-Enchill Letsa & Ankomah after a 12-year relationship, forcing the international firm to find a new partner in the West African state.

Dentons has signed a new association with JLD & MB Legal Consultancy to replace its tie-up with Bentsi-Enchill.

In a statement, Bentsi-Enchill said the two firms had “mutually agreed” to terminate their non-exclusive relationship and that the firm would cease to be a member of Dentons’ Africa Group.

Bentsi-Enchill said its membership of the group had “provided significant benefits for the firm,” adding: “The firm has however been undertaking a strategic review of its existing relationships with other law firms and has decided to maintain its independent status, and to consider other options.”

Managing partner Ace Ankomah told The Lawyer that the relationship had changed as the two firms had changed, particularly with Dentons’ growth and recent mergers.

“We came to the mutual decision that it was time to leave the tie-up,” he said. “Perspectives have changed with the changes we’ve seen with Dentons. We want to establish ourselves as a frm that’s able to relate to all forms that want to have a relationship with us, without being tied down to one relationship.”

Ankomah added that he was confident the firm would continue its recent growth. Over the last five years Bentsi-Enchill has doubled in size to seven partners and over 40 lawyers, and Ankomah said it was possible that it would field 100 lawyers within the next five years.

He said the firm was committed to its independence. Bentsi-Enchill remains a member of networks Lex Mundi and Lex Africa.

The two firms first teamed up in 2002, with Ghana the fourth country in legacy Denton Wilde Sapte’s growing Africa Group (19 August 2002). Over the past 12 years the group has grown to cover 20 countries over the continent. 

JLD & MB has five partners and another 10 lawyers, with expertise in sectors including energy and natural resources, telecoms and aviation.

The shifting relationships in Ghana follows considerable focus by Dentons and legacy firm SNR Denton on the sub-Saharan African continent in the past few years. Earlier this year Dentons merged with South African associate firm KapdiTwala to launch in Cape Town (9 April 2014). It has also announced plans to open in Johannesburg and in Francophone Africa.

Dentons’ Africa executive committee chair Thomas Laryea said the firm’s clients in Ghana included the government and foreign investors.

For more on Africa, see the Africa Elite 2014, including a focus on West Africa.