John qualified as an Attorney, Notary and Conveyancer in 1967. He holds a BA (Law and Economics) (Stellenbosch) and a Diploma in Law (UCT). On qualifying he joined Swemmer & Levin, Vredenburg as a partner, where he practised until 1976. In 1982 after a brief interlude with another Cape Town firm and two years practising on his own, he joined Mallinick’s Inc as a director in their commercial law department. From 1996 to 2002 he served as the firm’s managing director and in 2004 became a consultant.
Following the merger of Mallinicks Inc with Webber Wentzel, John continued as a full time consultant in the commercial department of the Cape Town office of Webber Wentzel until June 2009 when he left to set up office as a member of Corporate Law Alliance.
John’s initial experience in the country was that of a general legal practitioner but for the past almost 40 years he has concentrated on commercial practice. He has extensive experience in the negotiation and drafting of commercial agreements and the resolution of commercial disputes and prides himself on his ability to maintain fairness and effectiveness in the negotiation of contracts and to resolve disputes in a manner which enables the parties to sustain a good business relationship with each other thereafter.
Over the years John has been involved in many substantial and complex matters and has undertaken various significant roles, including for example:
- He successfully lobbied the British Government and the Commission of the European Communities for the recognition of the validity of Certificates of Origin issued by the Namibian Government in terms of the LOME Convention in respect of fish canned in Walvis Bay. This occurred at a time when Walvis Bay had not yet been incorporated into Namibia;
- For 10 years he served as a non-executive director on the boards of Namibia Sea Products Limited and Namibia Fishing Industries Limited, companies listed on the JSE and the NSX;
- In March 2007 John was appointed a Curator of Ovation Global Investment Services (Pty) Ltd and its nominee company Ovation Global Investment Nominees (Pty) Ltd, companies which provided financial administration services to the clients of independent financial advisers. At the time Ovation had R4.4 billion of assets under administration on behalf of some 15,000 investors. Its affairs were in chaos and its accounts in total disarray. When the curatorship had run its course, but for an outstanding damages claim which is being attended to by his co-curator, John at his own request was discharged as co-curator on 14 November 2012. In the course of the curatorship John and his co-curator:
- Managed to reconcile the companies’ records and establish that of the R4.4 billion under administration at commencement of the curatorship, a net amount of R169 million had been stolen and that Ovation was in fact insolvent;
- Managed to recover R73.3 million from two long-term insurance companies on behalf of investors who had taken out long-term insurance policies with those companies and managed to recover a further R11.5 million in liquidation dividends from various insolvent companies which had benefited from the thefts perpetrated on Ovation;
- Returned all assets administered by Ovation when placed under curatorship to their owners but for the amount of R169 million which had been stolen and a relatively small amount which was paid into the Guardian’s Fund because the owners could not be traced. The effect of this is that except for the investors whose investments were stolen, investors trapped on the Ovation platform at commencement of the curatorship received back in excess of 98% of the assets under administration at commencement of the curatorship.
The Ovation curatorship is regarded by the Financial Services Board as one of their curatorship successes.
On 15 August 2014, following the discharge of a previous curator and at the request of the Financial Services Board, John was appointed a co-curator of Fidentia Holdings (Pty) Ltd, Fidentia Asset Management (Pty) Ltd and Bramber Alternative (Pty) Ltd, companies which were placed under curatorship on 1 February 2007.
John has served as a member of the Commercial Panel of the Arbitration Foundation of South Africa, a member of the Appeal Panel of AFSA and continues to serve as a member of the Panel of Arbitrators of the Cape Law Society.
John is a keen sailor with vast ocean sailing experience and has been heavily involved in the administration of his sport. He has held various positions ranging from Commodore of the Royal Cape Yacht Club, Chairman of South African Sailing, the national body for sailing and as Chairman of the Organising Committee of the internationally acclaimed Cape to Rio yacht races. John has participated in numerous ocean races, including the Cape to Rio race several times. During 2003 he took a sabbatical during which time he and a friend circumnavigated Africa via Brazil in his 34-footer “Indaba”. In December 2012/January 2013 he participated in the Governor’s Cup from Simon’s Town to St Helena Island, thereafter sailing the boat back to Cape Town.