Kingsley Napley adds Ince partner in London to launch IP disputes practice

Melanie Hart joins UK firm’s commercial litigation team to expand contentious data protection and IP services

Melanie Hart Image courtesy of KIngsley Napley

Kingsley Napley has added a partner from UK rival Ince in London to launch an IP disputes practice. 

Melanie Hart has joined the firm after nearly five years as a partner at Ince having earlier worked for 10 years at Harbottle & Lewis. 

She brings broad commercial litigation experience to her new firm with a focus on intellectual property disputes and contentious data protection, including cyber response and reputation management/crisis management advice. She also represents clients in contentious trust and probate matters.

Hart is also involved with the Law Society, where founding partner, Sir David Napley, was once president. She is vice chair of The Law Society’s civil justice committee and an appointed lay observer for the Ministry of Justice. 

Richard Foss, head of dispute resolution at Kingsley Napley, commented: “I am delighted to welcome Melanie to the firm. Her all-round capabilities fit perfectly with our client offering and she will look to develop our work in IP disputes and contentious data protection in particular. This is where the firm sees growing opportunity in the years ahead, given synergies with other areas of our business and the needs of our clients.” 

Hart’s client base includes media and tech sector organisations and individuals, as well as high-net-worth-individuals, charities and international plcs. She frequently works on cross-border disputes and many of her clients are based in non-UK jurisdictions around the world. 

At Kingsley Napley, Hart is expected to work closely with IP specialists in the corporate & commercial team and the cross-practice technology and online safety groups to expand the firm’s contentious data protection and IP services. She will also continue to offer broad commercial dispute resolution advice.

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Her hire mirrors the firm’s ambitions – it has invested heavily in new partner arrivals of late, alongside new offices and revenue of £55.2m last year, the highest in its history. 

Recent key hires include that of Mishcon de Reya partner Waqar Shah in February to launch a dedicated tax investigation offering, the same month that it added partner James Bell from Hodge Jones & Allen as head of medical negligence and personal injury. Over the past few months the firm has also added partners in its in real estate, construction, and landed estates teams. 

And last year it added white-collar crime barrister Aaron Watkins from Cloth Fair Chambers to co-lead its new international protection practice alongside Rebecca Niblock. 

For her part Hart said she was “excited to be joining a firm in such growth mode, with an impressive litigation pedigree and such a lovely team". 

UK law firm Stephenson Harwood also bolstered its tech disputes offering recently, hiring partners Michael Bywell and Peter Dalton from Hausfeld and Herbert Smith Freehills respectively last month to lead its contentious technology, cyber and data disputes practice. 

Meanwhile, trading on AIM of Ince Group's shares remain temporarily suspended due to delays in the publication of its annual audited accounts for the year ending 31 March 2022 and its half-yearly report after its new auditor, BDO, said it needed more time due to the 'complexity of historic and legacy accounting issues'. 

The results are expected in early March. 

In July last year, Ince parted company with its chief executive, Adrian Biles, and embarked on an £8.6m fund raising in response to ‘financial difficulties’ fuelled by the impact of Covid-19, Russia's invasion of Ukraine and a costly cyber attack. 

Biles was replaced by Donald Brown, who was executive director and CEO of Arden Partners, a corporate advisory business acquired by Ince in April and subsequently sold in November.

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