Stephenson Harwood reinforces construction practice in Hong Kong

Stephenson Harwood has turned to US firm Blank Rome for the hire of a Hong Kong construction and dispute resolution partner.

Martin Downey has been practising in Hong Kong for 25 years, first with SNR Denton legacy firm Denton Wilde Sapte and later with US firm Heller Ehrman before joining Blank Rome in 2008. His practice focuses on construction and commercial litigation, arbitration and mediation in Hong Kong, Asia and internationally.

Downey said that one of the main drivers behind his move to Stephenson Harwood is the firm’s geographical coverage in cities where important international arbitration institutions are located.

“My practice has a strong focus on arbitration work, both regional and international. The fact that Stephenson Harwood has offices in major arbitration centres is well suited to my practice,” said Downey.

Downey’s appointment will add significant construction capability to Stephenson Harwood’s dispute resolution practice in Greater China, which is headed by partner

Malcolm Kemp, and reinforce the firm’s construction practice after Asia partner Gilbert Kwok left to join Clyde & Co in Hong Kong earlier this year (20 September 2011).

“Arbitration’s an increasingly attractive option for companies who are facing commercial disputes arising from conducting cross-border business,” said Downey. “Demands for arbitration services are growing steadily from local and international companies doing business in Asia as well as Asian clients’ increasing commercial activity outside of Asia.

“We’ve also seen that users of arbitration in Asia are becoming far more knowledgeable and sophisticated, in terms of choosing and using arbitration legal services. This, in turn, will push forward the development of international arbitration legal practices in the region,” he added.

Stephenson Harwood’s Hong Kong office currently has 14 partners and is headed by Greater China managing partner Voon Keat Lai. In mainland China, it has offices in Shanghai and Guangzhou.

Philadelphia-based Blank Rome opened its Hong Kong office in 2006 and set up an office in Shanghai in May 2011. The firm recently hired partner Ronald Sum from Eversheds for its international and maritime dispute resolution group in Hong Kong.