Stephenson Harwood expands Middle East practice with third partner hire in a month

Disputes lawyer John Lewis joins from Charles Russell Speechlys in the firm’s Dubai office

John Lewis Photo courtesy of Stephenson Harwood

Stephenson Harwood has hired disputes partner John Lewis from Charles Russell Speechlys in Dubai, the latest addition to the firm’s growing Middle East footprint.

Lewis brings with him more than 15 years of experience in the Middle East. His expertise spans complex domestic, regional and international commercial litigation and arbitration matters – all very much part of any law firm’s essential offering for disputes in the region. He is the third such partner to arrive this month, following the arrival of a seven-lawyer team from Ince & Co’s former Middle East office at the start of March.

Lewis has a notable track record in various sectors, including real estate, healthcare and financial services, which again mirror the UAE’s key business sectors.  

He is particularly recognised for his work in the regulatory, audit, advisory and consulting sectors. He focuses on professional indemnity defence-related instructions, which dovetail into the firm’s coverage in key markets like insurance, especially the London market.  

Eifion Morris, Stephenson Harwood’s chief executive, emphasised the firm’s strategic dedication to litigation, which constitutes half of its business. “We have attracted significant lateral partners over the last three years, and John’s arrival in Dubai adds major depth to our client offering for disputes across the Middle East,” Morris said.

Rania Tadros, managing partner of the Dubai office, highlighted that Lewis’s expertise complements the firm’s existing capabilities. She added: “John’s reputation within the market reflects his position as one of the strongest general commercial disputes lawyers in the Middle East, and his experience will strengthen our practice.”

The move follows Dubai partner Nick Sherratt’s departure from the firm last October to join Norton Rose Fulbright, succeeding former NRF regional practice leader Paul Stothard, who has relocated to London.

Stephenson Harwood has a rich history in the region, spanning more than two decades, advising regional and international clients on some of their most complex and significant matters from its regional hub in Dubai.

Further bolstering that Middle East practice, Stephenson Harwood welcomed partners Mohamed El Hawaway and Khurram Ali, alongside a team of five fee earners, to the firm’s flagship shipping and trade practice earlier this month.

El Hawaway left the Middle East office of legacy Ince & Co, formerly Axiom Ince, together with fellow joint managing partner Khurram Ali. Both men had led that firm’s regional office from 2013 until this month, which has now closed following their lateral hires.

The UK offices of Axiom Ince closed last year following a well-publicised intervention by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

El Hawaway specialises in dispute resolution in the shipping, insurance and aviation sectors. His expertise covers a broad spectrum of maritime disputes, including ship abandonment, vessel collisions and insurance coverage disputes.

Ali, known for his dispute resolution skills, brings extensive experience in marine transportation, ports/terminals and international trade disputes.

According to Tadros, the arrivals of both partners marked a significant milestone in the development of Stephenson Harwood’s Middle East practice, giving the firm one of the Middle East’s largest specialist maritime trade and insurance dispute resolution teams.

The firm previously announced similar hires from legacy Ince & Co offices, adding another shipping team from its Hong Kong office in October last year.

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