Reed Smith hires senior arbitration specialist from Fangda & Partners in Hong Kong

Matthew Townsend joins as a partner in London and Hong Kong

Reed Smith has hired arbitration specialist Matthew Townsend from Fangda & Partners to strengthen its global disputes and Hong Kong litigation team.

Townsend joins as a partner in London and Hong Kong, bringing with him more than a decade of experience advising on a variety of arbitration proceedings, including ad-hoc and administered arbitrations in major arbitral seats around the world.

His practice focuses on M&A disputes, as well as disputes in the energy, infrastructure, construction and technology sectors. He also regularly acts as advocate at procedural and merits hearings.

Lianjun Li, lead partner of the firm’s Hong Kong litigation team, said: “Matt is a well-established lawyer within the arbitration community in Hong Kong. He has extensive experience of advising clients on their high-stakes arbitration matters. As we continue to grow our disputes offering in the region, he is exactly the talent we need.”

Townsend spent more than six years at Fangda where he was counsel in its international arbitration practice. Prior to that he worked at Norton Rose Fulbright in Beijing and legacy firm SJ Berwin in London.

Kyri Evagora, Reed Smith’s Asia-Pacific managing partner, said: “Matt is a fantastic addition for our firm and our clients in Asia and globally.”

As a Mandarin speaker, Townsend has been involved in a number of China-specific proceedings, including the first emergency arbitration to proceed to the hearing stage under the Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre (HKIAC) rules.

Reed Smith has the 14th-largest legal team by size in Hong Kong, according to Webb-site Who’s Who, whose research is based on data published by the Law Society of Hong Kong. Townsend joins a nine-partner Hong Kong litigation and disputes team.

In June, CMS’s co-head of international arbitration Mariel Dimsey was named as the new secretary general of HKIAC. She will lead the HKIAC through a crucial period as it navigates the uncertainty created by Beijing’s uncompromising suppression of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement.

In May, Davis Polk & Wardwell’s head of Asia, Martin Rogers, pulled out of a controversial engagement to speak at an event marking the second anniversary of the introduction of Beijing's national security law.

The new law has sparked concerns about the future of Hong Kong, with a number of international law firms reconsidering their presence in the special administrative region. In May, Addleshaw Goddard became the latest firm to quit Hong Kong, following firms including Baker Botts, Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe and Osborne Clarke.

However, to date, firms with a major presence in Hong Kong remain committed to the jurisdiction.


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