21 Jun 2021

Kennedys launches Oman office to answer growing client demand in Middle East

Opening marks firm's second Middle East location after Dubai and makes it the only international insurance-focused law firm in the country

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UK-headquartered firm Kennedys has strengthened its presence in the Middle East by launching an office in Muscat, the capital of the Sultanate of Oman.  

The new office will be the firm’s second in the Middle East, adding to its existing presence in Dubai. It will be led by insurance, construction and disputes partner Jamie Kellick, who joined Kennedys’ Dubai office in 2019 from Addleshaw Goddard.  

Kellick will be joined by partner Nasser Al Shamli, who will be moving across from Nasser Ali Shamli, Advocates & Legal Consultants, Kennedys’ associate firm in Oman. 

The Muscat office launch is in response to growing client demand in the Middle East and will see Kennedys lay claim to being the only international insurance-focused law firm in the country, the firm said in a statement. 

Kellick headed Addleshaw Goddard’s dispute resolution practice in Muscat, having joined the firm in 2016 as a legal director covering dispute resolution in the UAE and Oman. His practice there predominantly focused on construction and projects, as well as commercial matters and regulatory and fraud-related issues, according to his LinkedIn profile.  

Al Shamli, meanwhile, spent the last six years in private practice and brings with him extensive commercial litigation and arbitration expertise in Omani law disputes. He focuses his litigation and arbitration practice in the contentious energy, aviation and construction fields, and has experience handling shareholder disputes and labour law issues.  

Commenting on the launch, Kellick said: “Oman continues the process of transforming itself into a modern regional economic centre, with extensive infrastructure and utilities projects still proceeding and with more planned. With growth in both government, private and foreign direct investment there are considerable opportunities, and our presence in the region will be a significant benefit to our existing client base as well as those new clients who want to work with Kennedys.”  

The firm said Kellick’s ‘strong relationships’ with Omani companies coupled with his dispute resolution expertise will allow it to build a local litigation capability in Oman, mirroring the strategy it employed to open in Dubai in 2006.

Kennedys’ Dubai office currently has seven partners and five fee earners, including international arbitration partner Celine Abi Habib Kanakri, who joined from Baker McKenzie’s UAE arm, Baker McKenzie Habib Al Mulla, in 2019. Partner duo Victoria Clucas and Bill Evans relocated to Kennedys’ Dubai post from London last autumn, adding to its property, energy and construction team.  

Nick Thomas, senior partner at Kennedys, added: “There are currently no other international insurance firms operating in Oman and we are seeing an increase in client demand as the country’s economy continues to diversify and grow. Our Dubai office has grown its litigation capability in recent years, and we are now looking to replicate that success in Muscat.”

The Muscat office will be Kennedys’ fourth launch to take place in the throes of the Covid-19 pandemic. Earlier this year, it opened its doors in Perth with a team from Clyde & Co, adding to its existing Australian outposts in Melbourne and Sydney. And last October, it snapped up four-partner Tel Aviv boutique Zelichov Ben-Dan & Co, making it one of the first international firms to offer local law advice in Israel. The firm also opened an office in Leeds back in February, and expanded its US reach with an office in San Francisco last June. 

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