Ernst is a regulatory lawyer and member of the Corporate team at Herbert Smith Freehills's Johannesburg office.
Owing to his background in Environmental Sciences (B.Sc Environmental Science and B.Sc (HONS) Environmental Analysis and Management) he tends to focus on the laws that govern the exploitation of natural resources. In addition to advising clients on the law, he also represents them in judicial review proceedings, international arbitrations, and high court litigation. Ernst has experience in environmental, labour, construction and engineering, mining, administrative and constitutional, customary as well as general commercial law.
He presently advises and represents companies that are listed on the Johannesburg, London, New York and Indian Stock Exchanges (among others) and which have operations in South Africa, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, Kenya, the United Kingdom, and Zambia.
Ernst's recent experience includes advising:
- the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as international legal counsel on the Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources’ mineral law reform project
- a globally diversified natural resources company on disputes with the Government of Zambia including developing and facilitating an international advocacy strategy
- various multinational mining companies on the regulatory, mining title and employment consequences of COVID-19 for their operations in South Africa
- advising Harmony Gold on the ZAR 4.4 billion transaction in which it purchased AngloGold Ashanti Limited's South African assets
- a multinational pharmaceutical company on the mechanism provided under the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement and how the mechanisms could be used to promote their operations across Africa
- foreign investors on the consequences arising from notices issued in terms of section 28 of the National Environmental Management Act, 1998 and section 93 of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act, 2002, including disputes with the Department of Mineral Resources regarding a demand for ZAR 460 million in respect of environmental rehabilitation
Ernst is an admitted attorney in South Africa. He holds a LLB from the University of Cape Town (2013) as well as a B.Sc Environmental Science (cum laude) (2009), and B.Sc (HONS) Environmental Analysis and Management (with distinction) (2010) from the University of Pretoria.