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Significant departures: BLP and Olswang heads of arbitration both leave for the bar

Nicholas Fletcher QC, who has led Berwin Leighton Paisner‘s international arbitration practice for the last five years, has resigned from the firm to join barristers’ chambers 4 New Square while Olswang arbitration chief Andrew Aglionby is also set to leave for the bar.

In what will come as a major blow to BLP, Fletcher is set to join 4 New Square as an independent arbitrator on 1 December 2014. The firm has been working hard to establish its own advocacy unit following the hire of Stuart Isaacs QC from South Square three years ago but Fletcher’s exit will raise doubts that the firm can compete with the Bar for instructions.

Fletcher, who spent 23 years at Magic Circle firm Clifford Chance before joining to spearhead BLP’s arbitration push in 2009, made silk earlier this year. He is a member of the International Chamber of Commerce’s task force on the New York Convention, which 152 states around the world have signed in commitment to the enforceability of arbitral awards, and specialises in handling disputes in the energy, oil and gas and natural resources sectors.

Singapore-based Kent Phillips and London-based Richard Power will co-head BLP’s international arbitration group on Fletcher’s departure.

Fletcher told Legal Business: ‘I’ve enjoyed leading and helping to build the international arbitration practice at BLP and I’m confident it will continue to thrive. After 30 years acting as counsel in international arbitration, I hope and believe I’ve got something to offer as an international arbitrator.’

Over the last 12 months 4 New Square has been aggressively expanding its international arbitration group. The set appointed Murray Rosen QC in June after he resigned as head of advocacy at Herbert Smith Freehills earlier in the year and energy arbitration specialist Paul Cowan joined from White & Case in May.

Head of 4 New Square, Ben Hubble QC, commented: ‘We are absolutely delighted to welcome Nic as a member of chambers. He is a doyen of the international arbitration community and further strengthens our offering in that area.’

Meanwhile, Aglionby who became a member of the ICC Commission on Arbitration last year has also decided to leave his role as head of arbitration at Olswang.

He was appointed to the position in 2011 after joining the firm a year earlier from Baker & McKenzie where he had worked for 17 years. He spent ten years as Baker & McKenzie’s head of international arbitration in Asia Pacific and also headed the firm’s construction group in Hong Kong.

Before his career at Baker & McKenzie, Aglionby was an assistant solicitor at legacy firms Denton Wilde Sapte and DJ Freeman – whose property team was taken over by Olswang in 2003.

Aglionby told Legal Business: ‘I have been very happy working at Olswang and deciding to join the bar was a personal preference.’ He added that he is yet to decide which set he is joining.

Olswang is currently reviewing options in regards to Aglionby’s successor. Richard Bamforth, head of Olswang’s litigation group said: ‘Andrew is planning to transfer to the Bar and will be leaving the firm in a few months. We wish him all the best for this change of career and thank him for his contributions to the international arbitration practice and the firm.’,