HFW continues Australia growth with shipping partner hire from local boutique in Perth

Australia is UK firm’s third-largest market globally after London and Hong Kong

Top 30 UK firm HFW has boosted its practice in Western Australia with the hire of shipping partner Ashwin Nair in Perth from local maritime boutique Cocks Macnish. 

His hire continues a period of sustained investment by HFW in Australia, which is its third-largest market globally after London and Hong Kong, revenue having increased by nearly 80% over the past six years and now accounting for almost 15% of the firm's turnover.

Nair specialises in shipping, admiralty and marine insurance, historically all areas where HFW is seen as a market leader. His client base – shipowners and charterers and their P&I Clubs and other insurers of marine risks – also dovetails with the firm’s core client base, while his particular interest in the offshore energy and commercial fishing industries align with HFW’s increasingly diverse commercial offering.  

Nair has moved over following a second stint at local boutique Cocks Macnish, where he trained and qualified and was most recently a director. In the interim he spent three years as a claims executive at The Shipowners' Club based in Singapore. 

His arrival at HFW follows the firm adding high-profile shipping and offshore marine partner duo Robert Lawrence and Ian Chung last month in Dubai from Clyde & Co. 

The firm has also added 11 new partners across its Melbourne, Perth and Sydney offices since 2020, including a three-strong disputes team from Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan in Perth in April led by former State Solicitor for Western Australia, Paul Evans. 

HFW Australia managing partner, Gavin Vallely, said Nair “brings depth of experience in shipping and marine insurance and his experience working across a wide range of matters and his local knowledge will enhance our offering to our Australian and international clients." 

Nair’s broad-based practice covers a range of marine casualty management, disputes and litigation, and advisory and transactional work, giving him reach across the criminal, civil, regulatory and insurance aspects of marine casualty and risk management work. 

He has joined HFW as its 24th partner in Australia. The firm now has nearly 100 lawyers across its offices in Melbourne, Perth and Sydney advising on aviation, construction, projects, employment, insurance, shipping, commercial litigation, corporate and finance as well as its traditional strengths in commodities, insurance and energy. 

HFW reported in August that its revenue had dipped 0.8% to £198.7m in the 12 months to the end of March against a 2% drop in profit per equity partner (PEP) to £669,000. At the time the firm put the results, which followed record turnover and PEP in 2021, down to exchange rate pressures given that 60% of its revenue is generated outside of the UK. 

The firm also made a cut in lawyer headcount during the pandemic and senior partner Giles Kavanagh said in August that it was seeking to increase new recruits as well as potential tie-ups with boutique firms.   

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