CMS Bolsters ME Disputes Practice with Partner James Abbott 

International law firm CMS has expanded its Middle East operations with the recruitment of James Abbott, who joins the firm as a partner based in its Dubai office. Abbott, formerly leading Clifford Chance’s Middle East Disputes practice for over six years, brings more than 27 years of experience in commercial litigation, arbitration, and investigations. 

Specializing in cross-border banking and financial litigation, including fraud and asset tracing, regulatory investigations, and joint venture and shareholder disputes, Abbott is widely recognized as a Leading Individual in Legal 500 for Dispute Resolution: Arbitration and Litigation in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). He holds a prominent position in Chambers’ Band 1 for Dispute Resolution in the UAE, being one of only four individuals listed. 

Abbott’s addition to CMS marks a strategic advancement in the firm’s ongoing expansion efforts across the Middle East. In the last year, CMS has underscored its commitment to the region with significant milestones, including the establishment of its Riyadh office, following the acquisition of its Foreign Law Firm Licence from the Saudi Ministry of Justice. Furthermore, partner Mohammed Aldowish was appointed as the founder of the Riyadh office. The firm also strengthened its presence in the energy disputes sector with the addition of partner Damian Watkin to the Abu Dhabi office, coinciding with the office’s relocation to the Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM), Abu Dhabi’s International Financial Centre. 

Adrian Bell, CMS partner and Joint Managing Director for the Middle East and Asia comments: “It is a privilege to welcome a partner of James’ calibre to the firm. James is a considerable presence before the DIFC Courts and boasts an enviable reputation across the Middle East. His joining complements the existing work of our global Disputes team, while at the same time strengthening our Middle East offering, particularly in the banking and financial services arena. His extensive Middle East coverage will also support the firm’s recent expansion in Saudi Arabia, a country where he has vast experience working with clients on a range of complex disputes. With James’ support, we will continue building out the practice, taking advantage of the firm’s recent expansion to support clients and explore new opportunities in the region.” 

Abbott adds: “I’m delighted to be joining the team at CMS. My banking and financial disputes focus offers something new to the firm and its clients, but also dovetails with the existing CMS practices in the Middle East and globally. The evolving regulatory landscape in the Middle East, which includes new laws on data protection and virtual assets, alongside broader changes to legislation impacting arbitration and litigation, will be a focal point for clients in the coming months. I look forward to working alongside the team at CMS to guide clients through these changes and help them to navigate the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead.”