This week’s Movers & Shakers (Nov 30, 2020)

New appointments at The Bench

The Bench has appointed Aston Benjamin-Taylor to head-up the growing Hotels & Leisure team. Aston has over 12 years’ experience gained initially in the UK in some of the leading sports and media law firms (Olswang and Lewis Silkin) before moving to Dubai in 2013.  He was subsequently senior legal counsel at Jumeirah Group for over five years, where we worked on a wide range of hotel development, operations, engineering and general commercial projects.  Prior to joining The Bench, Aston was a principal & head of Lifestyle Practice at The Support Legal Group in Dubai. His main areas of specialism include hospitality, corporate, commercial, IP and media.

The Bench has also welcomed Hameed Almihdar to The Bench’s growing Real Estate & Construction Team. Hameed has over nine years’ real estate, construction and disputes experience. He started off his career in the Dispute Resolution and Construction team at Dentons based in Dubai, where his focus was on arbitration and overseeing legal proceedings in the Dubai Courts.  He was subsequently senior legal counsel at Nakheel for over six years, where we worked on a wide range of real estate, hospitality, retail, corporate and commercial, disputes, and employment matters. Whilst at Nakheel, Hameed’s work was recognised in the Legal 500 GC Powerlist 2018.

Stephen Kelly and Sarah Mahood join Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner

Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner (BCLP) has boosted its real estate legal advisory business with the arrival of partners Stephen Kelly and Sarah Mahood earlier this month in the firm’s Dubai office. Both joined the firm from Dechert and are highly regarded real estate lawyers in their market, with a particular emphasis in the hotels and hospitality market.

Stephen, a real estate, development and hospitality specialist, has extensive experience advising master developers, developers, hotel operators, service providers and other players in the real estate, development and hospitality industries. Sarah, who has been recognised as a ‘next generation partner’ by The Legal 500, advises master developers, sub-developers, hotel operators, tenants, landlords, investors and lenders on all aspects of development, hospitality and commercial real estate.

Global department leader of Real Estate Chris de Pury said of the appointments, “The addition of Stephen and Sarah to the global Real Estate Team is extremely exciting. We are proud to already have a top tier offering in the Middle East and the region is key for us. Adding their practice area experience and fantastic reputation is a real coup and further demonstration of our goal to become the world’s leading real estate legal advisory business. We look forward to continuing to build on our already first-class reputation in the region.”

New partner and associates for Charles Russell Speechlys’ Middle East Dispute Resolution Practice

Charles Russell Speechlys has further strengthened its Middle East offering with the hire of dispute resolution partner Sara Sheffield. Sara acts in complex commercial litigation in the UAE’s common law courts in the Dubai International Financial Centre and the Abu Dhabi Global Market, and in international arbitration. Sara advises clients in relation to partnership and shareholder, financial and contractual disputes as well as fraud, asset tracing and recovery, contentious insolvency, regulatory investigations and enforcement matters, often with multi-jurisdictional aspects. Sara has more than 7 years of experience in the UAE and broader Middle East region and is a recognised leader in her field.

Sara is joined by senior associate Victoria Yates, who has 3 years’ experience practicing dispute resolution in the UAE, including both local and international arbitrations, and prior to that more than 10 years of experience at the UK bar. Victoria has handled cases relating to financial disputes, real estate and agency disputes among other areas. She will also be based in the firm’s Dubai office.

The team are further supported with the recent relocations of two additional associates from the firm’s Paris and London offices. Simone Sancandi and Sam Saunders have both joined the Litigation & Arbitration team based in the Bahrain office.

Sara Sheffield said, “I am very excited to join Charles Russell Speechlys’ Middle East team. The firm’s international recognition for its strong global Litigation and Dispute Resolution practice is particularly attractive and I look forward to working closely with the partners here. Additionally, I am delighted to be able to offer my clients the broader services of an award-winning firm in the region, in areas such as Corporate, Commercial, Construction, Real Estate and also notably Local Litigation in the Courts.”

Sara joins the firm from the Dubai office of Holman Fenwick Willan where she served as a partner in the Commercial Litigation and International Arbitration practice.


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