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Des Williams


Location: Johannesburg

Tel: +27 11 535 8234

Fax: +27 11 535 8634



Des Williams, Director, is deeply experienced in commercial litigation and alternative dispute resolution, including international litigation; arbitration; and mediation. He has been involved in many of the largest and most complex litigation and arbitration matters in South Africa and is named in numerous publications for his expertise in litigation and arbitration; construction law; and insurance and reinsurance. Des was the sole South African member of the Court of Arbitration of International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) from 2011 to 2018 and is the former co-chair of the litigation committee of the International Bar Association.

  • Construction & Engineering
  • Digital Media & Electronic Communications
  • Disputes
  • Commercial litigation (domestic & international)
  • Arbitration (domestic & international)
  • Telecommunications, media and technology law
  • Mining law
  • Building and Construction law


  • Represent Aquarius Platinum against Moolman Mining in an arbitration and High Court proceedings arising from the termination of a mining contract for the mining of Aquarius Platinum’s Marikana mine.
  • Represented Bioclones (Pty) Ltd, which is a biotechnology company, in arbitration against Hemispherx Biopharma Incorporated, a US company, relating to disputes arising from a distribution agreement between Bioclones and Hemispherx.
  • Represented the Premier Soccer League in its dispute with the SABC relating to broadcast rights. The SABC's claims against the PSL were dismissed by the arbitrator in January 2008.
  • Successfully represented South African Breweries in two arbitrations, High Court proceedings and an appeal in the Supreme Court of Appeal, in relation to disputes between SA Breweries and Shoprite arising from the sale of the OK Bazaars to Shoprite.
  • BA LLB LLM (University of the Witwatersrand)
  • Higher Diploma in Company Law (University of the Witwatersrand)
  • Higher Diploma in Tax (University of the Witwatersrand)
  • 1979: Director, Werksmans
  • 1994-2005: Head of Litigation & Dispute Resolution department
  • 2005: Chairman, Werksmans
  • 2015: Director, Werksmans


  • Ranked lawyer by Chambers Global | 2014, 2018, 2020 – 2022 (Senior Statespeople), 2024 (Senior Statespeople) | Dispute Resolution; Construction (Band 4)
  • Ranked as a leading practitioner by Legal 500 | 2018 – 2021 | Dispute Resolution
  • Ranked as a highly regarded practitioner by IFLR 1000 | 2015 – 2019 | Energy and Infrastructure; Project Development; Competition/Antitrust
  • Ranked as a global leader and one of the world's leading commercial litigation and arbitration specialists in Who's Who Legal | Commercial Litigation; Arbitration; Insurance & Reinsurance ‒ Included in the inaugural edition of Who’s Who Legal: Thought Leaders (2017)
  • Ranked as a leading lawyer and commercial litigator in Expert Guides | Commercial Arbitration
  • Chairman of Werksmans | 2005 – 2015
  • Co-chairman of International Bar Association Litigation Committee | 2007 – 2008
  • Member of Council of the International Bar Association Legal Practice Division Council | 2009 – 2011
  • South African member of the Court of Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce | 2011 – 2018
  • Chairman of Council of the International Chamber of Commerce South Africa (ICCSA) | 2016 – 2019
  • Chairman of AFSA SADC Division (a division of the Arbitration Foundation of Southern Africa)