HFW adds four-lawyer disputes team in Australia from rival Clyde & Co

Partner Maurice Thompson rejoins with three lawyers to lead HFW’s global litigation funding team

Maurice Thompson Image courtesy of HFW

HFW has bolstered its bench in Australia with the hire of a four-strong team from rival Clyde & Co led by disputes heavyweight Maurice Thompson.

Thompson has rejoined HFW as a partner and head of its global litigation funding team after a decade at Clydes and brings three lawyers with him - special counsel Paul Hopwood and Nicolas Doucas and an associate. HFW said three more lawyers would join from other firms as part of the move. 

The hires see HFW continue to expand its Australia business, which has more than doubled in size since FY15 and recruited seven partners last year from rivals including Baker McKenzie and Jones Day. 

For his part Thompson brings 30 years’ experience advising on complex large-scale disputes in Australia and the Middle East. 

He was a member of HFW Australia’s foundation team when the firm opened its first office there back in 2006 and HFW Australia managing partner, Gavin Vallely, said he was “delighted” to welcome Thompson back to the firm. 

“Having started his career in shipping and commodities and establishing himself as one of Australia’s leading practitioners in these sectors, Maurice has also become an expert in the offshore energy, aviation, insurance, litigation funding and, more recently, autonomous ships and aircraft sectors,” Vallely said. “He has vast experience managing large scale multijurisdictional arbitrations and litigation, and his practice is a perfect fit with HFW’s industry sectors.”

Thompson’s experience includes advising on disputes arising from marine casualties, offshore facilities’ construction and performance, biosecurity, trade credit insurance and international trading of minerals, hydrocarbon products and agricultural commodities. He also acted for airlines and their insurers in defending multiple Australian Court proceedings arising from the MH17, MH370 and Germanwings 9525 casualties. 

He is also recognised as having a leading litigation funding practice in Australia and has secured funding for cases in Australia and overseas involving claims for damages ranging from AUD$100m to AUD$500m. 

Thompson wrote on LinkedIn that HFW’s “enthusiasm to embrace the growing litigation/disputes funding sector for the benefit of its clients” was one of his primary motivations for rejoining the firm.  

In a statement he also pointed to the firm’s capabilities in shipping, commodities and aviation, adding its sector focus “resonates strongly with the market”.  

The move marks the latest of a series of departures from Clydes’ Australia business, which saw its managing partner, Lucinda Lyons, move over to Kennedys with a team of 12 last December after just a year in the role. The month before her predeccesor, Michael Tooma, had taken a team of 10 to Australian firm Hamilton Locke, while in the summer the firm had also cut 10 non-partner fee earner roles in Australia.

For its part HFW’s hire of Thompson continues a string of laterals in the firm’s Australia business. Last November it added a quartet of corporate, projects and disputes partners in Perth and Sydney from MinterEllison alongside a team of 15 lawyers and in December secured environment and climate change partner Ruth Dawes in Sydney from Baker McKenzie.  

Those hires followed industrial relations and employment partner Simon Billing and construction litigation partner Ken Hickman joining earlier in the year; Billing from his own practice and Hickman from Jones Day. The firm now has around 160 lawyers in Australia, including 30 partners. 

The firm posted record results for FY23 in June, growing revenue by more than 13% to £225.3m in the 12 months to the end of March against a 17.5% jump in PEP to £786k, a performance that saw the firm buck the trend among its UK rivals of revenue growth but flat or falling profits. 

HFW has also expanded elsewhere in the APAC region recently with the launch of an office in Shenzhen Qianhai, to better serve its clients in China’s booming Greater Bay Area.  

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