A century's old bank for a century's old law firm



WITH OVER 147 years in the legal profession, Durban-based Garlicke & Bousfield has built a solid reputation as one of the leading law firms in KwaZulu-Natal.

Brian Jennings, CEO of Garlicke & Bousfield, attributes the firm’s longevity in this ever-changing sector to the value it places on relationships and loyalty, and to consistently offering exceptional legal services to clients.

“The firm’s client base is testimony to this,” he said. “We have been fortunate to be able to foster relationships with clients that over time have developed into friendships.”

Since its inception in 1867, the firm has grown to offer a comprehensive range of legal services covering all facets of litigation, such as banking, commercial and property law, as well as estate planning and administration.

Having a strong foundation in commercial and property development, the firm also prides itself on its particular expertise in Sugar Law, Environmental Law and Town Planning.  

“Garlicke & Bousfield’s growth has not been without its challenges. We have constantly had to adapt to new developments in the legal profession which have included dealing with the new regulatory environment where there is increasing emphasis on administrative compliance at various levels.

“The firm has ensured that it has kept abreast of these developments by focusing its resources on technology and prioritising the acquisition of efficient and cost-effective IT systems and electronic products such as its enviable electronic library,” said Jennings, adding that the business could not have succeeded without forging and fostering effective relationships with clients, employees, and suppliers.

The same principle applies to the law firm’s relationship with its oldest and one of its most valued clients, Standard Bank, which has also been Garlicke & Bousfield’s transactional banker since the 19th century.

Occupying pride of place in one of the prominent meeting rooms of the firm’s La Lucia Ridge offices is a framed original hand written letter from Harry Escombe, founder of Garlicke & Bousfield, to Standard Bank dated 14 September 1868, specifying the signatories on the trust account.

This was presented to the firm on 21 November 2005 by Errol Stewart, Director of Business Banking at Standard Bank.

The firm’s historic memorabilia also includes a framed letter from Lewis L Michell of Standard Bank to Harry Escombe dated, 23 February 1897, when Escombe accepted the office of Prime Minister of the Colony of Natal and in which the bank expressed the view that “the friendly relations so long subsisting between the bank and yourself may remain unbroken” – and indeed they have.  

“This is a relationship that has endured and survived generations of change in both of our organisations,” said Craig Polkinghorne, head of Commercial Banking at Standard Bank.

“Garlicke & Bousfield has grown to become more than just a client; the firm is a strategic business partner of Standard Bank, which supports the firm in respect of all its requirements, including transactional banking, lending, and the holding of its trust monies.

“We are proud of the firm’s history and its relationship with Standard Bank which demonstrates how loyalty, client service, and nurturing relationships can go a long way to helping a business succeed.”

* This story was sponsored by Standard Bank.

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