Ince signals 'new era' for Dubai office as it unveils replacements for departing head

Joint managing partners take charge after loss of former leader to Stephenson Harwood dents growth

Incoming managing partners Alastair Holland (l) and Mohamed El Hawawy Images courtesy of Ince

AIM-listed legal and professional services firm Ince has announced new managing partners of its Dubai office in the wake of the loss of highly rated office head Rania Tadros to Stephenson Harwood.

Shipping and insurance specialist Mohamed El Hawawy and corporate lawyer Alastair Holland have been charged with growing the firm's regional business after it conceded in its interim report that her departure had affected the office's first-half performance. 

Tadros is due to join Stephenson Harwood next month to lead the firm’s office in Dubai, her hire having been announced last October. 

Ince said the new leadership team's broad sector expertise and combined experience and networks across the UAE ‘strongly position’ them to lead the firm in the Middle East.

An Egyptian-qualified civil law litigator, El Haway assists local and multinational companies on shipping disputes across the Middle East and also handles insurance matters for clients relating to life, property, product liability, marine, political risk and medical insurance. He joined Ince in 2013 as a senior associate from leading UAE firm Al Tamimi & Company and made partner two years later.

Holland, meanwhile joined Ince a little more than two years ago from the Dubai office of New York firm Curtis Mallet-Provost Colt & Mosle, where he was a partner. Before that he spent almost two decades at Ashurst, the last five years of which he served as managing partner of the Abu Dhabi office and head of corporate for the Middle East.

He advises clients in the region on public and private M&A, joint ventures, equity capital markets and private equity across a range of industries, as well as on the acquisition, disposal and restructuring of assets. He also advises on day-to-day business matters, in particular corporate governance and commercial contracts.  

Adrian Biles, CEO at Ince, said the duo’s appointment “begins a new era for our Dubai office that builds on our strong business legacy and client service in the UAE while progressing growth and expansion plans in the region.”

Ince’s shipping, insurance and dispute resolution services in Dubai are ranked Tier 1, 3 and 4 respectively by Legal 500, with El Hawawy noted as a key lawyer.

The firm’s 19 lawyers in Dubai practise in all its core areas of aviation, business and finance, construction, energy, insurance and reinsurance, international trade and shipping, while the office’s key clients include British logistics outfit Inchcape Shipping Services, US insurance agency Global Underwriting and UAE logistics outfit SNTTA Cargo.

The change of leadership in Dubai was one of the reasons Ince gave for a slower start to the 2021/22 financial year for its EMEA business in its interim report last December. EMEA revenue decreased 2.5% the six months ended 30 September compared to the same period the previous year, from £8.0m to £7.8m. This was in contrast to the business’ UK arm, which in the same period saw revenue grow 5.6% to £28.2m, while in Asia it rose by 7.8% to hit £13.9m.

The firm, which also attributed the EMEA results to a slowdown in trade in Germany ‘as the effects of certain structural, Brexit-related regulatory changes have been worked through’, said it expected the effects of these changes to be temporary with the EMEA business returning to growth in the second half of the financial year.

Tadros, meanwhile, is set to join Stephenson Harwood as it looks to build its Middle East presence in support of its aim to double turnover within five years. Her arrival comes shortly after the UK firm, which has 26 lawyers in Dubai including 11 partners, added finance partner Rustum Shah in the city from Hogan Lovells as head of its Islamic finance practice.

Hogan Lovells also lost a disputes partner in Dubai earlier this month when Nabeel Ikram moved over to US rival Vinson & Elkins to beef up its complex commercial litigation practice, shortly after the Houston-based firm’s former Dubai managing partner, Amir Ghaffari, left with a five-strong team including three lawyers to launch a new disputes practice.

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