Clyde & Co adds Kennedys disputes duo for Thailand launch

Partner Ian Johnston and legal director Sorawat Wongkaweepairot join from Kennedys’ shuttered Bangkok office to launch insurance giant’s 14th APAC base

UK insurance giant Clyde & Co has added a pair of lawyers from Kennedys’ shuttered Bangkok office for its own Thailand debut.

Arbitration partner Ian Johnston has joined the firm along with legal director Sorawat Wongkaweepairot after Kennedys closed its Bangkok office at the end of last month following a review of its Thailand operations. 

Clydes said it was launching in the city to provide insurance advice to local and international insurers and reinsurers, as well as litigation services on Thai disputes and arbitration services on international and Thai disputes.

“The Bangkok market is a vital one for our regional and global insurer clients as well as many energy, construction, and transportation clients,” said Simon McConnell, partner and chair of Clydes’ APAC board. “Joining Clyde & Co as part of our growth strategy will enable [Johnston and Wongkaweepairot] to work with our practitioners across ASEAN, for the benefit of their practices and our clients.”

Johnston is an international arbitration specialist with extensive dispute resolution experience and has worked in Asian markets for more than 20 years. Dual-qualified in England & Wales and Hong Kong, his practice focuses on representing insurers, energy companies, developers, construction professionals and contractors in disputes in Asia and beyond the region. 

Meantime, Wongkaweepairot brings experience in commercial litigation and commercial transactions. He was most recently a senior associate at Kennedys. 

The new office, which will open subject to regulatory approval, will give Clydes its 14th base in Asia-Pacific, where it currently houses almost 300 lawyers including 58 partners. 

In August the firm reported its 24th consecutive year of revenue growth, with revenue rising 1.6% in the previous financial year to £650m against a slight drop in profit per equity partner from £715,000 to £708,000, which the firm chalked up to an increase in the number of equity partners.

More than half of the firm’s revenue (56%) was generated outside of the UK, with North America accounting for 22% followed by Asia-Pacific at 14% and the Middle East and Africa at 12%. Its Australian business was a notably strong performer, becoming the firm’s third largest country by fees generated.

The planned Bangkok launch follows a sustained period of international expansion at Clydes. Since the start of last year the firm has set up shop in Munich, across the southwestern US in Phoenix, Las Vegas and Denver and in Canada in Vancouver and Calgary. In August the firm also announced it was gaining a permanent base in Chile through a merger with its local partner firm

And in July its merger with UK firm BLM went live, a move that created an insurance behemoth with revenue in excess of £700m.

For its part Kennedys said that following the closure of its Bangkok office the firm would continue to serve its clients’ Thailand needs from its regional Asia Pacific offices and through its network of local Thai law firms. Kennedys remains in Hong Kong and Singapore, as well as five outposts across Australia and New Zealand.

Email your news and story ideas to: