Trowers hits out at exiting partners as Addleshaws launches in Oman

Addleshaw Goddard’s launch of an Oman office has been overshadowed by allegations from the former firm of the two partners it is hiring that the duo breached their partnership agreements.

Trowers & Hamlins yesterday (14 January) confirmed the departure of Oman partners Charles Schofield and Roger Byrne and claimed it had terminated their membership of the firm.

It claimed the duo had taken shares in a company set up in the country with a competitor while they were working for Trowers. It is unconfirmed whether the competitor was Addleshaws or another firm.

A Trowers spokesperson said in a statement: “We can confirm that Charles Schofield and Roger Byrne, two junior partners in Oman, have left the firm with immediate effect.

“We discovered that they have taken shares in a company set up under the Foreign Investment Law in Oman with a competitor while they were working for us, and they have left following the termination of their partnerships for breach of the partnership agreements.”

The Foreign Investment Law enables foreign companies to form a local company owned at least 55 per cent by local entities.

Addleshaws today (15 January) announced the pair are set to join the firm as it launches its base in the country through an exclusive association with local lawyer Nasser Al Habsi.

The firm declined to comment on the allegations from Trowers, but managing partner Paul Devitt said in a statement: “Roger, Charles and Nasser are very well respected in their specialist fields and their experience, combined with our growing reputation in Dubai, will provide us with a strong foothold in a strategically important and growing market. Extending our footprint, and introducing additional transactional expertise in projects, finance and corporate, to complement our current strength in litigation will be instrumental in increasing the firm’s market share in the Gulf region.”

Byrne, a banking and project finance specialist, and corporate partner Schofield will lead the base alongside corporate lawyer Al Habsi, with whom they worked while at Trowers in Muscat. The office is set to open in February subject to regulatory approval, its second in the Gulf region after it raided Trowers to hire Andrew Greaves last year for its Dubai launch (11 July 2012).

Schofield was Trowers’ Oman head of corporate and joined the firm in 2005 from an Australian firm. Byrne, a former partner at Australia’s Clayton Utz, moved to Trowers from Australian corporate advisory house Charter Pacific Capital in 2008.

The double exit, first reported on legal website RollonFriday, leaves Trowers with two Oman partners in the form of disputes specialist Majid Al Toky and oil, gas and infrastructure lawyer Edward Rose.

Schofield and Byrne could not be contacted for comment.