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Stewarts Law brings in Dechert veteran to bolster fraud practice

Disputes leader Stewarts Law has made a rare partner hire in its core commercial litigation practice after recruiting Dechert litigation veteran David Hughes.

Hughes joins after three years at Dechert and had previously served as Berwin Leighton Paisner’s (BLP) head of banking and finance litigation for nine years. His practice focuses on fraud and regulatory issues for banking groups, two boom areas of contentious work.

Despite its expansive form as one of the fastest growing practices in the LB100 Stewarts has been relatively restrained at lateral recruitment in recent years. Its last major hire came in October 2016 when it recruited Herbert Smith Freehills’ advocacy head Ian Gatt QC.

Stewarts’ head of commercial litigation Clive Zietman (pictured) told Legal Business that Hughes will help widen the 52-partner firm’s fraud team: ‘He wanted an absolutely top-quality team and he felt our team could really support him. We’re very picky with our laterals, but we felt that his arrival went in line with what the firm is doing.’

Hughes’ arrival bolsters a commercial litigation team that is currently fighting a headline-grabbing shareholder claim against Tesco. Partner Sean Upson is leading for Stewarts in the case, which relates to a 2014 profit misstatement which saw Tesco over-state its profits by £263m.

The disputes specialist was one of the fastest growing LB100 firms in 2015/16, with revenues increasing by 17% to £61.3m. However, the firm abandoned a preliminary attempt to merge with fellow litigation boutique Enyo Law in March this year.