Jonathan Sahli

Jonathan Sahli

Co-Head of Litigation
Johannesburg, South Africa
T: +27 11 669 9571
  • Overview
  • Experience
  • Publications & Insights


Cost-effective and sensible resolutions to disputes are uppermost in the mind of Jonathan Sahli, who believes that a good dispute resolution lawyer has two key qualities. These are a strong commercial sense of what the client aims to achieve and the ability to match that with the appropriate dispute resolution approach and solutions.

This could entail seeking a commercial settlement through mediation or opting for litigation or arbitration, but there is no fixed formula. It all depends on the client’s objectives and the facts of the matter at hand. Jonathan has successfully represented banks, insurers, financial institutions, mining houses, pharmaceutical companies, medical schemes, construction companies, hotel groups, retailers, FMCG’s, IT companies and parastatals.

Jonathan’s dispute resolution toolkit is extensive. A qualified mediator with South African and United Kingdom qualifications, he also specialises in High Court litigation and private arbitration, and has expertise in transactional disputes, contractual claims, mining-related litigation, insolvency and business rescue, and class action lawsuits.

Currently, he is representing a multinational vehicle manufacturer in its ongoing class action lawsuit, which is breaking new ground in South Africa.

Jonathan has also recently been working on cross-border matters in Mozambique, Tanzania and Singapore, either as lead counsel or as local counsel instructed by international law firms.

In addition to being adaptable and commercially minded in his approach to dispute resolution, Jonathan has a well-deserved reputation for being upfront and frank with clients at all times and making practical suggestions about how to mitigate commercial and legal risk. Clients know where they stand when he is acting for them.

Jonathan has been with Bowmans for 20 years, having joined the firm straight out of university. He became a partner in 2011 and Co-head of Litigation of Bowmans’ South African litigation practice in 2021.


  • Wits University, Bachelor of Laws (LLB) and BA Law and International Relations
  • Accredited by the Africa Centre for Dispute Settlement and the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution in the United Kingdom.
  • In 2021, Jonathan completed the Leading Professional Services Firms Programme run by Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford, United Kingdom.

Specialist Services

Relevant Experience

Jurisdictions with matter experience South Africa, Mozambique, Mauritius, Tanzania, Singapore.

Domestic matters in which Jonathan has acted recently include:

  • Defending a global vehicle manufacturer in defending class action proceedings involving billions of rands.
  • Advised a multinational soft drink distributor in relation to a compromise and novel business rescue arrangement with a company in business rescue and its business rescue practitioner. The arrangement was successfully implemented, resulting in savings of hundreds of millions of rands.
  • Acted for a listed TMT company in contractual damages litigation spanning nine years.
  • Assisted a multinational vehicle manufacturer to defend a claim for specific performance which ended in the Supreme Court of Appeal.
  • Advised a multinational analytics company in relation to a contractual dispute with a South African bank relating to the financial institution’s motor vehicle finance division.
  • Successfully defended an American pharmaceutical company in a breach of contract claim where the damages asserted were R37 million.
  • Advised a major South African bank on the unwinding of an employee share incentive scheme and in defending a number of claims that were brought by disgruntled former employees in relation to that scheme.
  • Assisted a company listed on the London Stock Exchange to recover the balance of the purchase price due to it in terms of a sale of shares agreement following the disposal of its holding in a South African company.

International or cross-border matters in which Jonathan has acted recently included:

  • Assisting an international energy company with enforcement proceedings in Mauritius and South Africa.
  • Acting as lead counsel for a global beverage manufacturer in defending a multimillion-dollar damages claim, involving the setting aside of a sale of share transaction.
  • Acted for a London-based international bank in relation to a disputed demand for payment of a substantial performance guarantee made by a South African company and the subsequent litigation flowing from the disputed demand.
  • Advised a large Australian bank on the recovery of a multimillion-dollar loan from a South African mining and exploration company and in respect of the enforcement of the security arrangements, including pledges and special and notarial bonds, in place between the parties.
  • Defended a South African mining company in a disputed claim for payment arising from a service contract concluded in Mozambique.
  • Represented a listed mining company in pursuing claims through the United States Bankruptcy Court in the Southern District of New York.
  • Assisted a major South African bank to obtain court orders to freeze bank accounts in South Africa and Lesotho containing funds stolen by former employees of the bank.
  • Advised a large international bank on obtaining evidence from a South African company for use in legal proceedings instituted in Nevada, United States in terms of the Foreign Courts Evidence Act.
  • Acted for a major bank in defending proceedings relating to the demand on a bank guarantee in Arusha, Tanzania.
  • Defended a multinational vehicle manufacturer in a damages claim brought in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

Publications & Insights