HFW builds in Hong Kong with hire of Tanner De Witt's former head of arbitration

Arrival of Hong Kong, English and BVI-qualified ex-Slaughter and May counsel follows HFW's launch of a BVI office earlier this year

Kevin Warburton Image courtesy of HFW

Top 35 UK law firm HFW has hired a disputes partner in Hong Kong from local independent Tanner De Witt as it continues to build out its global disputes practice. 

Kevin Warburton has moved over after a two-year stint at Tanner, where he was a partner and head of arbitration. Before that he spent 13 years at Slaughter and May in London and Hong Kong, initially as a trainee and latterly as counsel. His practice spans commercial litigation and arbitration proceedings, including in front of HKIAC, ICC and LCIA, investigations and data privacy and cybersecurity matters. 

Noel Campbell, HFW’s APAC head of disputes, commented: "Kevin brings a range of experience to our commercial disputes team and is committed to growing our Hong Kong office. I'm looking forward to working with him on matters in Hong Kong, China and the BVI."

Warburton is qualified in Hong Kong, BVI and English law and has worked with clients including private and listed companies, financial institutions, high net worth individuals and entrepreneurs.

His arrival at HFW follows a run of disputes partner hires by the firm over the past year, including Karen Cheung in Hong Kong from local independent Li & Partners and shipping and offshore disputes specialist Robert Lawrence in Dubai from Clyde & Co.

Earlier this year the firm also hired a team of three disputes lawyers in Perth from Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan led by the office's founding partner, Paul Evans, and secured an offshore base when it took over the BVI office of Bahamas litigation firm Lennox Paton, in a rare move for an onshore law firm. 

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HFW now has more than 350 disputes lawyers globally and its commercial litigation offering is ranked Tier 4 by The Legal 500. Strength across the firm’s core sectors of aerospace, commodities, construction, energy, insurance and shipping forms bedrock of the practice, which is led by Campbell from Hong Kong alongside London-based Andrew Williams. 

Standout work for the team has included defending Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank and Emirates NBD Bank against a claim issued by the State of Qatar for damages from an alleged conspiracy to harm Qatar and acting successfully for BP Oil in a claim for unjust enrichment in the London Commercial Court against Vega Petroleum and Dover Investments.

"I am excited to contribute to the ongoing growth of HFW's Hong Kong office and in particular working closely with the disputes team across Asia-Pacific and the BVI, as well as the wider firm,” said Warburton. “There is huge opportunity for cross-collaboration across the region and HFW provides an excellent platform to continue to grow my practice at a leading international firm". 

In the summer HFW reported its revenue and profit per equity partner (PEP) dipped over the past financial year, having set a record in 2021. Total revenue fell 0.8% to £198.7m in the 12 months to the end of March, with PEP falling by 2% to £669,000. The firm said 60% of its revenue is now generated overseas while senior partner while Giles Kavanagh promised new recruits and potential tie-ups with boutique firms.

Hong Kong is HFW’s second-largest market globally after London and the firm’s office there houses 60 lawyers, including 21 disputes specialists. 

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