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Aviation boutique Gates & Partners has poached Barlow Lyde & Gilbert (BLG) partner and head of its Singapore office David Johnston to head its new Singapore base.
BLG, which will lose its only Singapore-based partner, is trying to find a replacement for Johnston and has vowed not to close its Singapore operation.
BLG senior partner Richard Dedman said: "In the short term we’ll be sending over a partner from the London aviation team."
Gates & Partners is waiting for Johnston to complete his notice period before opening the office's doors. The firm is not intending to offer a local law capability and will use the office as a geographical base to cater for airlines within the region.
Senior partner Sean Gates told The Lawyer: "We’re aiming for the office to tap in to the airline market from Japan to India so we can expand our aviation offering worldwide."
The office is expected to house four lawyers when it does begin operations, but Gates is adamant that the firm will send over more lawyers as the need arises.
"We’ll calculate the need for support in the region and assess demand and act accordingly," said Gates.
Meanwhile at BLG, Dedman said the Singapore office, which currently has two associates as well as Johnston, remains a key focus for the firm.
"We do have plans to further develop the Singapore office and will be finding the best solution based on client needs," said Dedman.
Johnston's experience includes a number of Asian aviation disasters that have occurred in the past decade, such as the Korean Air MD-11 accident in Shanghai, the Air China accident in Korea and the Garuda Solo and China Northern Airlines Dalian accidents.