Herbert Smith Freehills names London insurance litigator as global disputes co-head

Paul Lewis replaces Damien Byrne Hill in role alongside Sydney-based Anna Sutherland

Paul Lewis will take up the position in May Photo courtesy of Herbert Smith Freehills

Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) has appointed London insurance disputes lawyer Paul Lewis as joint managing partner for the firm’s global disputes business and regional head of its UK and US disputes practices. 

Lewis will take up his new position in May, working alongside Sydney-based Anna Sutherland. He succeeds banking litigator Damien Byrne Hill, who returns to practice after five years in the role.

Lewis's promotion is the culmination of 30 years' work at the firm, specialising in insurance and professional negligence disputes, having joined HSF in 1992 and becoming partner nine years later. He currently leads HSF's global insurance disputes practice, with clients including insurers such as Marsh & McLennan and banks such as Lloyds and RBS.

He is best known for successfully advising the Financial Conduct Authority in the Covid-19 business interruption test case at the Supreme Court in 2021. The case was the most significant insurance case of the last decade, which is continuing to impact insurers and policyholders.

Lewis’s practice spans policyholders, insurers and brokers on disputes relating to excess layer claims, professional indemnity, directors and officers coverage and liability disputes, among others. His role as global insurance head now passes to Alexander Oddy, a long-standing member of the same team who currently leads the firm's ADR practice. 

Lewis said: "I'm honoured to take the reins of the disputes practice from Damien, who has steered the practice so brilliantly during his tenure.

"It's an exciting time for our practice as we continue to advise on major mandates, support clients in their most complex disputes, and play a leading role in emerging areas of litigation practice such as class actions."

Ian Cox, executive partner, said Lewis had "demonstrated strong leadership skills through his adept handling of highly complex disputes matters and, in his commitment, to developing the contentious insurance team."

Both Lewis and Sutherland have "strong collective experience to lead our disputes practice and drive forward the firm's strategy," he added.

Disputes are one of HSF's most significant revenue generators, alongside its corporate practice. The firm reported a 6% rise in growth for the ninth consecutive year in 2022, thanks to strong performances in both areas.

A similar global leadership refresh was announced for the firm's corporate arm last November, with HSF stalwart Mike Flockhart succeeding Stephen Wilkinson as joint corporate lead. 

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