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Lovell White Durrant has launched a fresh attempt to kick-start its property litigation business by head-hunting a leader in the field - Nicholas Cheffings from rival Nabarro Nathanson.
Cheffings will join Lovells in January as head of property litigation, leapfrogging the firm's only other property litigation partner, Anne Waltham.
Cheffings will replace the highly rated David Cox, who left the firm last year following a conviction for gross indecency.
Although a Lovells spokeswoman said Cheffings would be "working alongside Ann Waltham", the decision to fill the post from outside could also put a few noses out of joint.
A rival property litigator commented on the move: "This is Lovells' attempt to make a splash in the property litigation field."
Nabarros' number two spot in the property litigation market should be safe, the litigator added, because it had 12 capable assistants in its department and Cheffing's departure would create space to promote one of them.
Nabarros' head of property litigation, Iain Travers, said Cheffing's place would be left vacant for a few years to give one of the assistants the chance to step into his shoes. "It's up to them to prove themselves," he said.
Travers said the split had been amicable. "It's a good move for Nicholas because it puts him in charge of a property litigation group which needs a leader," he said.
"My practice here is sufficiently strong in depth to be able to withstand Nicholas's departure. Obviously I would prefer it if he didn't leave."