Gateley and Fidal target African disputes with senior arbitration hires

Perenami Momodu joins Gateley from Aelex Legal, while Manuel Tomas joins Fidal from Foley Hoag

Perenami Momodu (right) with Gateley’s disputes head Richard Healey Photo courtesy of Gateley

London-listed Gateley and French firm Fidal have stepped up their Africa coverage, with both making senior arbitration hires with an eye on the continent.

Gateley has recruited Perenami Momodu from West African firm Aelex Legal to lead its Africa practice in Nigeria, while Fidal has hired Manuel Tomas from Foley Hoag to lead its international arbitration practice.

Momodu joins Gateley as a consultant after 11 years at Aelex, where she became a partner in 2020. There she acted for major Nigerian and international clients, including an exploration and production company in an arbitration worth $40m. She is a member of the Nigerian Bar Association, the International Bar Association, the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators and the ICC’s Young Arbitrators and ADR Forum.

Her arrival aims to support Gateley’s sectoral interests across the oil and gas, infrastructure, technology, fintech, construction, investments and renewable energy sectors, where she has also advised corporates on issues ranging from insolvency to foreign direct investment, labour law and dispute resolution.

In 2019, Momodu received a Special Recognition Award from the Federal Republic of Nigeria for her involvement in Nigeria’s proposed insolvency reforms. 

Momodu will work closely with London-based partners Michael Lightfoot and Kieran McCarthy, who joined Gateley as co-heads of international arbitration last September, and Dubai-based legal director Tonderai Nyandoro.

Richard Healey, Gateley’s head of business services, said the move was part of the firm’s commitment to “enhance our existing capabilities within international arbitration and disputes, particularly in fast-growing economies, such as those in Africa and the Middle East”.

Lightfoot added that Momodu brings “many years of experience in high-profile disputes work in Nigeria and across Africa”.

Momodu said her move will support the increasing number of business links and investments being made between the UK and African countries such as Nigeria and Ghana, using her Nigerian location to help the firm implement its Africa strategy while working closely with it to broaden her international arbitration expertise in the UK and the Middle East.

Meantime, Tomas joins Fidal as a partner in Paris after two-and-a-half years at Foley Hoag. He also had earlier stints at WilmerHale, Teynier Pic and Eversheds Sutherland.

The French-qualified lawyer has disputes experience in Francophone Africa, especially in West and Central African jurisdictions subject to OHADA (the Organisation for the Harmonisation of Business Law in Africa), benefiting French clients working in those countries.

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