Skip to content

HFW Boosts Leading Middle East Practice With Top-Ranked Dubai Shipping And Offshore Team

22 August 2022

Global, sector-focused law firm HFW has boosted its leading Middle East practice with the hire of top-ranked shipping and offshore marine partners Robert Lawrence and Ian Chung.

Robert and Ian collectively have more than 30 years’ experience in the Middle East, and join HFW’s Dubai office from Clyde & Co, where Robert headed the firm’s International Trade and Transport practice in the region. The move sees Ian return to HFW, where he was a partner until 2017. Robert joins HFW on 22 August; Ian will join on 5 September.

Robert and Ian are both rated as market leaders by legal directories Chambers and The Legal 500. HFW now has five of the 11 lawyers ranked by The Legal 500 as leading individuals for shipping in the UAE, and two of the three lawyers ranked by Chambers in Band 1 for ship finance in the UAE – both more than any other law firm..

HFW has operated in the Middle East for more than 15 years and now has 20 partners and over 50 lawyers in total across offices in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Kuwait City and Riyadh, making it one of the largest practices of any international law firm in the region.

Yaman Al Hawamdeh, UAE Managing Partner, HFW:

“This is a very significant development for HFW in the Middle East. Robert and Ian are go-to lawyers for maritime, offshore and international trade work, and adding them to our already market-leading team means that we are now unquestionably the number one shipping practice in the region for both disputes and transactional matters.

“HFW has been in the Middle East for a long time and we remain deeply committed to the region, as evidenced by our ongoing investment into new offices and top talent. We plan to continue to invest in the Middle East and will actively pursue opportunities to further strengthen and broaden our offering to clients.”

Robert is a leading disputes lawyer with a particular focus on the marine and offshore industries, including English law and Middle East claims arising from EPC contracts, offshore casualties, ship build and ship conversion projects, trade and transport, and marine insurance. He also advises on enforcement proceedings – onshore and in the DIFC; commercial litigation, including joint venture disputes; as well as non-contentious and regulatory matters.

Robert acts for a wide range of clients across the Middle East, as well as ship owners with assets operating in the region, including those based in Singapore, Azerbaijan, and Turkmenistan. He will also work closely with HFW’s team in Riyadh, where he has significant experience advising Saudi-based clients, as well as litigating before the Saudi Commercial Courts and the Saudi Insurance Disputes Committee.

Robert is ranked by legal directories as a leading individual for shipping in both the UAE and Saudi Arabia. Client testimonial in Chambers describes Robert as an “exceptionally likeable first-class lawyer and trusted advisor”.

Ian specialises in transactional matters within the marine and transportation industries, including M&A and joint ventures, corporate and commercial, regulatory and licensing, finance, and general advisory work. He also has significant experience on insolvency and restructuring, and has acted for banks and borrowers on some of the most significant regional restructurings in recent years.

Client testimonial in The Legal 500 describes Ian as an “outstanding individual with an in-depth knowledge of the industry”, while client feedback in Chambers says that “in terms of commercial knowledge, Ian is one of the best”.

Robert Lawrence, Partner, HFW:

“As a shipping disputes lawyer, there is simply no finer place to practise than HFW. The size, expertise and client base of the firm’s global shipping group is unrivalled – it really is the gold standard for advice to the industry. HFW has also consistently demonstrated its long-term commitment to the Middle East – which is incredibly important to local clients – as well as a willingness to invest in bold moves. I’m looking forward to working with the team to continue that growth – in the UAE, Saudi and globally.”

Ian Chung, Partner, HFW:

“I’m very excited to be re-joining HFW. The firm has grown significantly since I departed and its focus on developing its maritime and trade practice in the region has been impressive. I’m pleased to be re-joining a firm that is so focussed on the core sectors of maritime, trade and transport, and I hope that we are able to offer clients the best advice and support for their businesses in the region.”

Robert and Ian’s arrival follow HFW’s launch in Denmark with the hire of market leading shipping lawyer Jens Mathiasen, and the firm’s internal promotion of four new shipping partners and legal directors – including of shipping and logistic disputes expert Anas Al Tarawneh in Dubai.

HFW is widely recognised as the world’s leading shipping and maritime law firm, and has been serving clients in the industry for almost 140 years. The firm has more than 200 shipping lawyers and nine Master Mariners across its global network, specialising in dry shipping, admiralty and crisis management, and transactional work.

HFW has more top-tier rankings for shipping in Chambers and The Legal 500 than any other law firm, and its lawyers have featured in Lloyd’s List’s ranking of the top 10 lawyers and 100 most influential people in the shipping industry for four consecutive years.

The Lawyer’s Litigation Tracker shows that HFW has handled over 60% more shipping litigation cases in the English Courts since 2015 than its nearest rival.

Press Contact
Chris Johnson
Head of Communications