Stephenson Harwood makes double partner hire in London to boost tech disputes coverage

Michael Bywell and Peter Dalton join from Hausfeld and Herbert Smith Freehills respectively
A headshot of Michael Bywell and Peter Dalton

Michael Bywell (left) and Peter Dalton Photos courtesy of Stephenson Harwood

Stephenson Harwood has hired two dispute resolution partners from Hausfeld and Herbert Smith Freehills to bolster the firm’s technology group in London.

The pair include Michael Bywell and Peter Dalton, who will lead the firm’s contentious technology, cyber and data disputes practice. Bywell brings with him more than 25 years of experience advising clients on tech and cyber-security related matters, including data breach claims. Dalton specialises in cybersecurity, tech-focused intellectual property and IT dispute resolution.

Simon Bollans, head of Stephenson Harwood’s technology sector group, said the pair’s arrival reflects the firm’s priorities in this area: “Hiring Michael and Peter to lead our technology disputes and cyber practices reflects that focus and builds on our existing bench strength for local and international technology work in the corporate, commercial, intellectual property and data protection areas.”

Bywell spent just under four years at Hausfeld, having previously worked at Arnold & Porter and legacy firm SJ Berwin. He has also worked in Australia and his native New Zealand for Minter Ellison’s Auckland affiliate, and Australian firm Johnson Winter & Slattery, both as partner. He is qualified in England and Wales, Australia and New Zealand

Lianne Craig, Hausfeld’s London managing partner, said: “We enjoyed having Michael with us over the last few years. We are glad to hear he found a good home at Stephenson Harwood with a full-service technology practice.”

Bywell’s move represents an opportunity for him to work with corporate clients as both claimants and defendants, as well as alongside transactional partners. Given his background, he will supplement existing partner strengths in its corporate, commercial, intellectual property and data protection practices.  

Dalton, previously a senior associate at Herbert Smith Freehills for nearly four years, has more than a decade of experience in the field following a 12-year stint at Kemp Little. His expertise ranges from ransomware and nation-state hacking incidents to technology and cyber related regulatory investigations, tech-patent and software disputes. He also provides counsel on distressed IT project disputes and renegotiations.

"Cyber and data security are major risk areas in every industry and cyber breach response is a growing area that is often business critical for clients," said Ros Prince, co-head of Stephenson Harwood's commercial litigation practice.

Prince added: "The same is true of IT implementations and digital transformation: every organisation has them and they can easily go wrong leading to time and cost overruns and disputes. Michael and Peter bring important skills that not only complement our market leading regulatory investigations, commercial disputes and civil fraud teams, but also enable us to offer an end-to-end technology service."

The firm plans further hires at associate level in March, when the firm’s data protection practice, led by partner Katie Hewson, will add one managing associate coming from Herbert Smith Freehills and one mid-level associate coming from Warner Music Group.

The firm previously welcomed commercial litigation partners, Genevieve Quierin and Dan Smith from Mishcon de Reya and Latham & Watkins in 2021 and 2022 respectively, while growing its partner ranks in a London-heavy 10-partner promotions round last year.  

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