Legal Business Blogs

Further losses at Ince as Singapore head leaves for Stephenson Harwood in double exit

Partners are departing at a rate of knots from Ince & Co ahead of its proposed Gordon Dadds merger, with a pair of veteran Singapore-based partners the latest set to join Stephenson Harwood.

Making the switch is Ince’s managing partner for the Singapore region, John Simpson, and regional finance team head, Martin Brown. Simpson is set to move on 1 May 2019, while Brown will join on 1 November 2018. Stephenson Harwood has taken three partners from Ince this week.

Simpson specialises in shipping, energy and international trade and acts for a wide range of clients, including multinational metals and petroleum companies. His major mandates at Ince include advising energy company GlobalORE on revisions to the Standard Iron Ore Trading Agreement (SIOTA), and representing a Singaporean shipyard on a dispute worth tens of millions of dollars.

Brown’s departure from Ince follows nearly ten years at the firm. His practice involves advising on cross-border ship finance and off-shore maritime transactional matters.

Martin Green, managing partner of Stephenson Harwood’s Singapore office, commented: ‘With the international shipping industry having been in a state of flux for some time, John’s joining the firm will allow us to further support our clients in the region as they face the evolving challenges. In particular, his vast experience advising on arbitration in Singapore, London, Kuala Lumpur and Indonesia will further bolster our offering to clients.’

The hires follow Stephenson Harwood announcing yesterday (15 October) it had hired Ince’s global insurance head Joe O’Keeffe. O’Keeffe had spent over 27 years at Ince, advising insurance on coverage issues, casualties and disputed claims. London partner Kiran Soar has been selected to replace O’Keeffe as global insurance head.

At Ince, the spate of outgoing partners comes amid surprise merger talks with listed firm Gordon Dadds. In September the two firms confirmed they were in discussions to create the UK’s largest listed law firm, with a combined turnover of around £114m.

Rumours had swirled in recent months that Ince was lining up a merger, particularly after revenue fell 6% to £83.4m in the last financial year. Other setbacks included the stepping down of senior partner Jan Heuvels in August, and the February departure of a four-partner team to sector rival Clyde & Co in Hamburg.

In July, Ince made 25 business services staff and seven fee-earners redundant.