02 Nov 2021

Abu Dhabi construction boutique hires ‘up and coming’ Dentons partner for London launch

Mantle Law targets London as clients’ preferred location for international litigation and arbitration

Portrait photo of Gurbinder Grewal

Gurbinder Grewal

Abu Dhabi-headquartered construction boutique Mantle Law has hired Dentons partner Gurbinder Grewal to set up a London office.

The move comes a year-and-a-half after former Clyde & Co partner Mat Heywood launched Mantle Law to serve leading contractors, employers, plus construction and engineering professionals.

“International expansion was always part of our ambition and London was the important choice in our clients’ eyes,”  he said. “Put simply, London is the preferred location for international litigation and arbitration, [with] some of the highest quality cases and clients.”

Ranked as ‘up and coming’ by the legal directory Chambers and Partners and a member of Legal 500’s International Arbitration Powerlist, Grewal has spent a decade at Dentons, including six years as a partner.

He typically represents owners, contractors and PFI/PPP stakeholders in claims relating to payment, delay and disruption, defects and professional negligence.

Grewal said he was excited to to develop a new practice in the London market, aiming on capitalising on pandemic-era disputes, which, he said, had “created a diverse range of headwinds for the construction industry”.

He added: “The economics of the sector and the balance sheets of contractors have fundamentally changed. Cashflow is the lifeblood of the industry and tensions on the supply chain are immeasurable. Right now, cost certainty and clarity on fees, coupled with rapid trans-national solutions in litigation aren’t just helpful, they’re essential to survival.”

Heywood told GLP that Mantle had, since launch, capitalised on the strength of the Middle Eastern disputes market, one of the world’s largest, with more than $2.5trn worth of projects planned to complete by 2030.

He said it was rare for Emirati firms to look West for a launch but that “since day one, our clients have asked whether (and when) we’d be making what they saw as the natural and sensible move of opening in London”.

Heywood’s move to open a London office comes as the UK’s legal profession actively promotes the use of English law in contracts as a way of guaranteeing commercial certainty. International English law construction contracts are recognised by several UAE jurisdictions offshore courts including Abu Dhabi’s Global Markets Court and Dubai’s DIFC Courts as well as in arbitral tribunals.

However, Dubai’s arbitral tribunals are undergoing a period of intense, if controversial, reforms, pending the creation of a new Dubai International Arbitration Centre, making London – and the London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA) – attractive to construction clients in the region.

The LCIA was a joint venture partner with the now-abolished Dubai Arbitration Institute in the DIFC-LCIA Arbitration Centre, which is now winding up its current caseload.

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