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06 July 2017

Charles Russell Speechlys expands its presence by launching in Hong Kong and Dubai

Hong Kong office opening

Charles Russell Speechlys today announced its first expansion into Asia by opening an office in Hong Kong. 

Charles Russell Speechlys Hong Kong will run in association with a newly established Hong Kong law firm under Jonathan Mok. A well known family litigator, Jonathan practises in all areas of family disputes and focuses on high-profile matrimonial, asset tracing  and criminal litigation. He is one of the small number of civil solicitors to be granted higher rights of audience in Hong Kong and is the only Solicitor Advocate specialising in family disputes.

James Carter, Managing Partner at Charles Russell Speechlys says: “Our move into Hong Kong fits squarely within our international expansion strategy. The firm will have direct access to clients and intermediaries in five of the world’s top ten private wealth centres, further extending our ability to support the world’s leading creators and owners of private wealth, their families and enterprises across the full spectrum of business and personal needs.  A continuation of our strategic growth objectives which follows new Partner appointments in Switzerland, Luxembourg, London and the Middle East.”

Jonathan Mok comments: “I have enjoyed a close relationship with Charles Russell Speechlys over many years and this is an exciting opportunity to work together to build a practice with a global reputation. With the number of high net worth individuals in Hong Kong projected to grow year on year and reach 230,000 by 2020, the private wealth market is an important one and I have every confidence that we will soon become one of the major players in Hong Kong.”

Richard Grasby has also joined Charles Russell Speechlys Hong Kong as Partner, adding further weight to the firm’s private wealth expertise. Richard was formerly at Maples and Calder in Hong Kong and the Cayman Islands, where he was responsible for the trusts and private wealth practice in Asia. He was the first Cayman Islands-admitted and BVI-admitted trusts lawyer to be stationed in Asia and the first trusts Partner in an offshore firm in the region. Based in Hong Kong since 2009, Richard has an extensive network of contacts in banks, law firms and trust companies throughout Asia. Richard is the chair of the Hong Kong branch of STEP.

Richard Grasby comments: “I am delighted to be joining a leading firm committed to private wealth work in Asia and across the world. Charles Russell Speechlys is well-known in the region and the establishment of the office will provide a solid base from which to expand into Asia.” These new Partner appointments will position the two firms as prominent players in family dispute and private wealth advisory work.

To further strengthen the practice, Charles Russell Speechlys Partner, Ashley King Christopher, will relocate to Hong Kong. Ashley advises internationally based clients and their family office executive teams on the integration of international wealth protection structures with business and investment transactions, with particular emphasis on international deals, primarily in Asia, Europe and Africa.

Graeme Kleiner will take overall responsibility for co-ordinating Charles Russell Speechlys’ Hong Kong office with its other international offices. Graeme currently heads the firm’s Contentious Trusts and Estates team, advising trustees, executors and beneficiaries in relation to a broad range of disputes.

Middle East expansion

Charles Russell Speechlys expands its presence in the Middle East with the opening of a new office in Dubai on 10 July 2017 and the recruitment of two Dispute Resolution Partners and four associates.

Already well-established in the region, these appointments further enhance the firm’s in-region disputes capabilities, creating a Middle East-wide team that can handle local, regional and international cross-border litigation and arbitration.

The recruits are as follows:

Ghassan El-Daye joined as Partner from King & Wood Mallesons (KWM). Ghassan has 23 years’ experience, specialises in all forms of dispute resolution and will lead the firm’s Arabic litigation practice. Over the course of his career, Ghassan has built a strong dispute resolution practice, handling cases for regional and international clients engaged in local court litigation throughout the UAE and neighbouring jurisdictions. Ghassan joins with Senior Counsel Rasmi Ragy and Associates Ahmed El Sayed and Costa Khouri. All four add significant depth to the existing Litigation & Dispute Resolution practice in the Middle East and provide increased  bilingual capabilities.

Jonathan Brown joins as Partner from Hadef & Partners, where he was a leading Dispute Resolution partner and led the firm’s Maritime, Transport & Trade practice in Dubai. Jonathan has over twenty years’ experience as a commercial lawyer, both in private practice as an international litigator and in-house for multinational corporations. Jonathan will be joined by Senior Associate Raymond Kisswany.
  
The expansion of the Litigation and Dispute Resolution team into Dubai comes soon after it was awarded the ‘Highly Commended’ award in the ‘Arbitration Team of the Year’ category of the Corporate Counsel Middle East Legal Awards 2017 on 11 May 2017.

The international law firm is also expanding its in-region Real Estate offering with Real Estate and Construction expertise in the new Dubai office. Real Estate and Construction is a key part of the firm’s focus, including the Middle East. The team regularly acts on some of the region’s biggest transactions by value and complexity and has been consistently short-listed for major legal awards over the last few years.

From its existing offices in Bahrain and Qatar, the firm has advised clients throughout the Middle East for more than a decade, including governments, regulators, sovereign wealth funds, multinational corporations, major companies, family businesses and private individuals.

The new Dubai office will extend the firm’s regional footprint, while also providing an additional gateway to Charles Russell Speechlys’ wider expertise across the full spectrum of corporate and personal legal needs.

Speaking about the expansion, James Carter, Managing Partner at Charles Russell Speechlys commented:

“This is a fantastic opportunity to expand the range and depth of services for our clients in the Middle East. We have built a strong reputation in the region over the last ten years around our core areas of litigation, real estate and construction. However, the firm’s Middle East experience goes much wider than that - many of our partners have significant clients in the region; they visit often and in this way clients are able to access the full breadth and depth of Charles Russell Speechlys’ skills and expertise.”

Patrick Gearon, Partner and the Head of Middle East at Charles Russell Speechlys, added:

“Over the last decade, our specialist team in the Middle East has handled some of the most complex, sensitive and high value claims in the region.  We want to build on our experience and establish Charles Russell Speechlys as one of the Middle East’s foremost Litigation and Dispute Resolution practices. Our new partners and associates will play an important part in this plan and we look forward to sharing with our clients the wealth of knowledge and experience that they bring.”

Duncan Elson, Partner and Head of Litigation and Dispute Resolution at Charles Russell Speechlys comments:

“As one of the leading Litigation and Dispute Resolution practices we are pleased to extend our reach to align with the recognised centres of International Arbitration and Dispute Resolution. I am delighted to welcome our new colleagues to the Dubai office which will handle local, regional and international cross-border litigation and arbitration.”

Real Estate Partner, Simon Green, who has been in the region for almost 10 years and leads the Real Estate practice will take on the office head role.

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