Matthew Burnell

Local Partner, Johannesburg



Matthew's practice focuses on environmental and climate change law. He has advised and assisted clients in various sectors including mining, oil and gas, power and electricity and associated infrastructure on the regulatory compliance requirements and risks within the context of complex transactions and projects. 

Sources praise Matthew Burnell for being "responsive and dynamic in his approach," continuing: "His work product suggests a very high degree of business acumen and client insight." (Chambers Global 2020, Environment). He was also noted as someone who "continues to develop a notable reputation in the field" and is "very approachable, very knowledgeable and practical, with a no-nonsense approach." (Chambers Global 2019, Environment)

His experience extends across the entire spectrum of environmental regulatory advice including regulatory compliance and advising lenders, borrowers and contractors on the environmental requirements associated with project and corporate finance.

Bars and Courts
High Court of South Africa
University of Cape Town
University of Cape Town
University of Cape Town


Acting for various lenders, borrower and contractors during all phases of the South African Renewable Energy Independent Power Procedures Programme. Matthew's advised clients on the regulatory compliance requirements in terms of relevant statutes and the Equator Principles, conducting due diligence investigations and advising on risk mitigation and drafting the relevant portions of the finance documents and project documents.*

Acting for Facility for Investment in Renewable Small Transactions (RF) (Pty) Ltd in their financing of Building Energy's Kruisvallei Hydro-electric power project.*

Acting for Facility for Investment in Renewable Small Transactions (RF) (Pty) Ltd's funding of Matzonox Proprietary Limited's waste to power project which processes the nutrient rich waste water to extract nutrients and produce electricity.*

Acting for a confidential mining client in the sale of a bio-gas energy plant.*

Advising a confidential client regarding the petroleum retail and site licences.*

Advising CFAO in its purchase of Steinhoff's Unitrans Business which included various environmental matters associated with petrol stations associated with the business*

Acting for Rand Merchant Bank in respect of the fund, construct, maintain and operate a new liquid bulk handling and storage facility in Port of Ngqura, in the Eastern Cape Province, South Africa.*

Acting for Absa Bank, Nedbank Limited, Pecvest 19 (RF) (Pty) Ltd, Investec Bank Limited, the Development Bank of Southern Africa Limited, Sanlam Capital Markets (Pty) Ltd, Sanlam Life Insurance Limited, Sanlam Credit Conduit (Pty) Ltd and Firstrand Bank Limited in respect of the Avon and Dedisa Peaking Power plants are South Africa's first large privately owned power generating plants initiated by the Department of Energy. The power generated by the two open cycle gas turbine (OCGT) power plants supplies Eskom SOC Ltd (Eskom) with electricity during peak demand times. The cost of building both plants represented a significant investment of R10 billion to the South African energy sector.* 

Acting for a confidential client in its potential share purchase of a company holding an exploration right over gas reserves off the western coast of South Africa.*

* Experience prior to joining White & Case

Awards and Recognition

Leading lawyer, Chambers Global – Environment 2019, 2020

Recommended individual, Who's Who Legal: Environmental 2018, 2019