Deneys Reitz announces appointment of first ever Deputy Chairman

15 September 2009 Deneys Reitz
Rob Otty

Rob Otty

Deneys Reitz, one of South Africa’s leading law firms, has announced the appointment of Rob Otty to the newly created position of Deputy Chairman of the company.

Otty, who managed the Cape Town operations of Deneys Reitz, took up his new position on September 1. He will be working closely with Chairman Michael Hart in Johannesburg and will succeed Hart when he retires as Chairman in 2011.

Speaking from Cape Town, Otty said his new position is intended to give effect to the firm’s succession planning strategy and will ensure that there is no loss of management continuity at Deneys Reitz when Hart retires in April 2011.

Although his appointment became effective on September 1, Rob Otty is not moving back to Johannesburg immediately because of family commitments. He will commute as required to Johannesburg until the end of 2009 and make a formal move to Deneys Reitz’s Sandton offices early in 2010.

The new appointment is the latest for Otty who has been with Deneys Reitz since he began his career in the firm’s Johannesburg offices as a candidate attorney in 1991 after graduating from the University of the Witwatersrand with an LLB. He spent five years in Johannesburg before moving to Cape Town where he later became head of the office.

Otty specialises in aviation, professional indemnity insurance, engineering and construction related litigation. He has also been involved in a number of large audit related professional indemnity matters, the most significant of which was litigation following the collapse of the LeisureNet Group. He has also represented insurers in a number of large commercial fire claims, including a claim in excess of R750- million arising from the destruction of an industrial building.

Commenting on Otty’s appointment, Hart, who has held the position of Chairman at Deneys Reitz for 11 years, said: “The appointment of Rob creates an early and positive opportunity to deal with succession in relation to the leadership of the firm and provides me with the time to work closely with him over the next 18 months to ensure continuity and an effective transition.”

Otty said his primary tasks at Deneys Reitz are to build on the solid base created by Hart who has ensured that there is a high level of professional expertise and integrity at all levels within the firm.

Continuing the process of transformation so that the firm mirrors South African society as a whole will be another priority, as well as cementing the firm’s reputation as one of the top tier firms in South Africa, he said.

Ensuring that the three major Deneys Reitz regions (represented by offices in Sandton, Cape Town and Durban) work closely together to optimise the professional strengths available across the country is also on the agenda. His role as head of the Cape Town office gave Otty particular insight in this regard.

Looking to the long-term future of the firm, Otty said there is no doubt that the future lies in Africa.

“Expansion into Africa through the African Legal Division of the firm is a realistic goal and one that can be achieved by driving professional excellence through all levels of the firm and using this as a platform for considered growth into the continent,” he concluded.

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