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06 October 2020

Brown Rudnick's London head of arbitration joins Beirut's Alem & Associates

Nicholas Tse to set up Abu Dhabi branch for new firm with team of two associates

By Ben Rigby

Abu Dhabi skyline

prochasson frederic; Shutterstock

Brown Rudnick’s London head of arbitration, Nicholas Tse, has joined Beirut-headquartered Alem & Associates with a team of two associates.

The trio have relocated to Abu Dhabi to set up a new office for the seven-partner Lebanese firm, which already has a Middle East presence in Dubai and Riyadh.

Tse leaves Brown Rudnick after eight years the top 200 US firm’s London office taking associates Léa Andouard and Morgane Barataud with him. Tse, who is dual-qualified as a barrister and French avocat, previously headed Gide Loyrette Nouel’s disputes team in London, and has a strong Middle Eastern client base. 

He brings his existing caseload, which includes a forthcoming case in the UK Supreme Court to his new firm. The case, Kabab-Ji SAL v Kout Food Group, concerns the enforcement and recognition of an arbitral award handed down by an ICC tribunal seated in Paris. 

He has also litigated significant multijurisdictional cases, including Masri v Consolidated Contractors, which spanned a dozen jurisdictions. His new Abu Dhabi base suits his sectoral experience, which includes projects and complex infrastructure, transport and defence.

Tse will maintain a link to London via an associate membership at barristers’ chambers Crown Office Chambers. He said he had known Alem & Associates senior partner Mohammed Alem for more than 10 years and his move reflected his long-term interest in Middle Eastern work, accrued both at his time at Brown Rudnick and Gide. 

He added that relocating to the Gulf would make it easier for him to communicate with his clients given the Covid-19 restrictions on travel and a culture that still favoured face-to-face meetings.

Mohamed Alem, senior partner at Alem and Associates, said Tse’s arrival would “grow and broaden our international arbitration offering and take it to the next level”.

Tse’s departure from Brown Rudnick follows that of his co-counsel in the Kabab litigation, Ravinder Thukral, who joined disputes boutique Joseph Hage Aaronson as a partner in August.

However, last month the US firm hired Tony Horspool into its London corporate restructuring and special situations team as a partner. In recent months, CMS and Keystone Law have opened offices in Abu Dhabi.

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