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A Unit of Time With....

Posted by: Laurence Simons 28/08/13

A unit of time with... Peter Ellingham, Managing Partner with Kennedys Dubai LLP by Marea O'Toole, Senior Consultant of Private Practice for Laurence Simons Dubai.


Peter Ellingham is the Managing Partner with Kennedys Dubai LLP. An Insurance specialist with 20 years experience of the London market, he has recently relocated to the Dubai office to spearhead new business in the MENA region.

What was your professional motivation to move to Dubai?

A new challenge in a vibrant environment and the opportunity to participate in the further development of Kennedys in the Gulf Region and Asia. 

What do you feel are the challenges faced by law firms in the UAE?

Competition; increasing costs; evolving regulation.

Is it your intention to open another office in the UAE, if so where and why?

Kennedys’ model has always been to listen to clients and to open new offices if and where clients suggest they need assistance. We are actively looking at another location in the Gulf for that very reason, but I am not at liberty to release details at this stage. Watch this space!

Kennedys recently revealed details of its large-scale MENA expansion plan, tell us more...

It has a number of aspects:

Since we opened the Dubai office in 2006 it has focused on Construction Law. In this respect it was unusual, as the global firm also specialises in Insurance. In late 2012 and in response to an increasing number of insurance related enquiries from clients we made the decision to expand our Insurance offering “on the ground” and I was asked to relocate from London to head that up;

Given the many close connections between Dubai and India in the insurance industry, we have aligned the Dubai office closely with our Associate firm in India, Tuli & Co, one of the foremost insurance firms in India, which is run by Neeraj Tuli, who was formerly with Kennedys and is a contemporary of mine. We have taken a secondee from Tuli & Co in the Dubai office;

In the meantime the Construction team was attracting increasing levels of work, both contentious and non-contentious, and my Partner Andrew MacCuish was asked to relocate from England with me in order to support the existing team. Next month we welcome a secondee from London to further add to numbers;

We have formed an International Construction team, which operates as a “virtual team” across all offices and jurisdictions in our network, but with a particular focus in the Gulf Region;

You may have seen the recent announcement of Kennedys’ merger with Gates & Partners, a specialist Aviation and Marine firm. As a consequence we will gain two further partners in Kennedys Dubai, adding Aviation and Marine expertise to our portfolio.

The expanded Dubai office is playing a key role in the growth of our business across the Middle East, Africa and Asia. We cooperate in this with our offices in Hong Kong and Singapore, and beyond that with our Asia-Pacific Group, which also takes in Sydney and Auckland. 

It appears insurance law and regulation is gaining momentum throughout the UAE. How important is this for insurance companies and law firms here?

It is vital. Any business organisation must adapt to its environment and move with the times if it wishes to succeed. We have established a new Corporate Insurance Department that services this very area.

What would your advice be to lawyers who want to enter the UAE market?

Do your homework; don’t assume what works elsewhere will work in the UAE.