Belfast Telegraph

Ulster law company to establish a Qatar office

By Clare Weir

A Northern Ireland-based law firm is set to open a new office in the Middle East.

McGrigors, which has offices on Bridge Street in Belfast has been granted a licence to establish a branch office in Doha, Qatar by the Qatar Financial Centre Authority.

The plan has been led by James Elwen, a partner in the firm's energy and infrastructure practice.

He has relocated to Doha to lead the team in the new office.

The firm already carries out a significant amount of work in the region as a result of various energy matters.

It derived a significant percentage of its turnover in 2009-10 from the region.

Mr Elwen said: "The State of Qatar is ambitious, with a clear vision for its future.

"We are confident that we can make a valuable contribution towards meeting its aspirations.

"For some time we have been committed to the Qatari market and are pleased to have the opportunity to demonstrate that in a very tangible way through this new office."

Managing partner of McGrigors, Richard Masters, said that the office was principally to service existing demand, but said that the firm is planning ahead for wider growth.

"The requirement for sophisticated legal services from extremely significant clients in the region seems likely to increase in the future.

"We believe that our focus on the energy, infrastructure and professional and financial services sectors make this a strategically good fit," he said.

"We put together what we think is a very strong business case to that effect and are pleased to have received our licence to open."

Paul McBride, a partner in the Belfast office and board member of McGrigors, added that there were opportunities to further exploit links between Northern Ireland and the Middle East.

"In addition to having an established client base in Qatar, we have already had a lot of conversations with clients and intermediaries here and are aware of a number of burgeoning business links between Northern Ireland and Qatar," he said.

"Particularly after the challenges in Dubai over the past few years, a lot of exporters seem to favour Qatar as the best option when forming a bulkhead for operations in the Middle East."

McGrigors has expanded significantly during the past three years, merging with Belfast firm L'Estrange and Brett in 2009, doubling the size of its Manchester office, and bolstering the firm's longstanding energy team in Aberdeen.