Dentons to vote on Kuwait closure as New York’s Curtis pulls the plug

Dentons partners are set to vote on the termination of the firm’s office in Kuwait, with the news coming alongside New York outfit Curtis Mallet-Prevost Colt & Mosle’s closure of its own short-lived base in the Middle East state.

Dentons will shut its outpost in Kuwait if the partnership approves the move as part of a review of its presence in the country.

Details are currently unclear, but it is understood the firm is currently discussing options such as redeployment of staff.

Its only partner in the base is energy specialist Stuart Cavet, while its website lists one lawyer, two associates and a consultant, including one consultant and one associate who are employed by local association firm Jamal Ahmed Al-Shehab.

Dentons said in a statement: “We can confirm that we have been reviewing our office in Kuwait. However, no final decision has yet been made by the partnership.”

It is thought the firm’s tie-up with Jamal Ahmed Al-Shehab will continue despite Dentons giving up its own office space in the country subject to the result of the partner poll. Cavet’s next move is unconfirmed.

Earlier this year pre-merger SNR Denton swapped Kuwait’s International Legal Group for Ahmed Al-Shehab as its ally in the country (10 January 2013).

The latest development follows a period of transition in the Middle East for legacy SNR Denton, which earlier this year merged with European firm Salans and Canada’s Fraser Milner Casgrain to form Dentons (22 February 2013).

Kuwait managing partner David Pfeiffer resigned from the firm in October 2011 (24 October 2011) and was replaced by Cavet, who is currently the firm’s only partner in the country.

In 2012, Doha-based Middle East managing partner Leigh Hall quit the firm for “personal reasons” for an unconfirmed destination (19 June 2012) and was replaced unofficially by Dubai partner Michael Kerr, while Romi Nayef, a corporate partner and a key figure on SNR Denton’s mandate related to the Qatar World Cup, resigned later in the year and resurfaced at the Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee (11 September 2012).

Meanwhile, New York firm Curtis has shut its outpost in Kuwait just over a year after announced its opening in the state and will continue its association with local firm Mashora Advocates and Legal Consultants.

The US firm hired Pfeiffer five months after his SNR Denton resignation to launch its 16th global base as its head, working in association with local firm Mashora Advocates and Legal Consultants (6 March 2012).

Pfeiffer has moved over to Mashora as a partner along with his team of associates and will continue to work with Curtis but without the US firm having any partners or employees in Kuwait. The changes took effect on 1 May.