Now the name Ince is back in prominence in Gibraltar with the acquisition of legal services firm Ramparts by Ince Gordon Dadds, to be known in future solely as Ince Gibraltar.
Chief Minister Fabian Picardo attended the launch of Ince Gibraltar on the Sunborn Yacht Hotel on the 1st June. The acquisition brings together three companies as part of a bigger group, all specialists in their fields, with more access to resources and expertise.
Founder of Ramparts Peter Howitt first came to Gibraltar in 2005 to join gaming company Party Gaming, now GVC, and after working in a few different roles he decided to start Ramparts seven years ago. “We focused primarily on e-gaming which is obviously a huge part of the Gibraltar economy, and my experience in-house as a lawyer helped us grow a gaming practice,” he states. “We do a lot of work for payments companies that has led to work in cryptocurrency related activities and we also have a company administration side, so we manage companies for clients. We also undertake financial services advisory and compliance work.”
In a place not lacking in law firms, Peter comments that some people were a bit surprised at his decision to start another, but he felt that coming from an in-house background would mean he would have an advantage in persuading clients that Ramparts was solutions focused, somewhere people could go to for solving problems, whether related to the law or to practical issues.
Having grown Ramparts as a one-man-band from 2012 to a team of fifteen in just seven years, Peter realised that the company had reached a point where it needed to offer something else in the local community. It was an introduction by Andrew Tait, who had spent ten years as General Counsel and Chief Compliance Officer at Gibraltar-based operator Mansion Group and had then moved to London as a Partner in Gordon Dadds, which opened negotiations between Gordon Dadds founder Adrian Biles. “It has taken about nine months or so, but we are delighted to be part of a bigger group,” Peter says.
Adrian Biles founded the business in 2013 with the acquisition of Gordon Dadds, a small traditional Mayfair law firm specialising in private clients and family law matters. “At that time it was about 2.5 million pounds of annual fee income and from there we have grown it largely by mergers and acquisitions to a business with 13 offices in 8 countries, 1,000 people and an annualised income of 100 million pounds,” Adrian states. The different sectors of business of the company are shipping, transport and logistics, energy and infrastructure, insurance, technology, media and telecoms, regulatory solutions and gaming.
Listed on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM) of the London Stock Exchange in August 2017, Adrian explains that Gordon Dadds undertook a merger with world leading shipping firm Ince, and the company is now rebranding the London international offices of the business as Ince. “Gibraltar is a jurisdiction which is extremely attractive from a shipping point of view and, although we are specialists and world leaders in shipping and in gaming law, we have not had our own people on the ground here before, and from that point of view we have recruited a leading shipping lawyer , Anne Rose from Hassans, who will join Ince as Shipping Partner,” Adrian states, continuing, “add to that the relocation of Andrew Tait, who is one of our leading gaming practitioners, so we see that as an investment in Gibraltar and we are looking to contribute to the local economy and to grow our business here over the next few years.”
In terms of what Ince will now be able to bring to Gibraltar, Peter is confident that it will mean better recognition internationally for the jurisdiction as a good place to invest in or to move to. “Having an international brand and network will enable us to go out and sell Gibraltar plc really easily and to get those key messages across.”
The effects of Brexit on Gibraltar are as yet still unknown but whether there is a ‘withdrawal agreement’ or ‘no deal’, there are bound to be challenges for the jurisdiction. Peter comments that although they were very concerned prior to the referendum, he thinks that one of Gibraltar’s key strengths is resilience, and although it would be nice for the uncertainty to be over – he doesn’t think it really matters long-term to Gibraltar’s future.
“Luckily for us it isn’t about being in the EU, which is why we think the Ince deal is good and why we will be able to bring business to Gibraltar, because for many of the businesses and individuals that we can attract to Gibraltar it is not that important – it really depends on the sector.”
Another key area where Peter is confident that they can offer value, both with their experienced personnel in Gibraltar and access to people in the teams in London and elsewhere, is compliance. “This is a massive part of many operations now where they need to meet all sorts of compliance obligations and it is not just data protection; there is also anti-money laundering, responsible gaming for gaming companies, financial `promotion and conduct of business.”
“We also recognised that Gibraltar could really benefit from a different approach to dispute resolution and we are pleased to have on board Fiona Young as a Senior Associate,” Peter says. Fiona has experience as a commercial and employment lawyer and mediator which will help to open up new opportunities for Ince.
“We are looking at our clients as more than just their particular issue but identifying what their needs might be in the whole and taking those forward, which is exactly what the Ince brand is doing globally,” Fiona explains. “The other area that I am involved with is diversity and inclusion which is something that a lot of the local gaming companies are developing, so my work is very project based which is also exactly what the Ince brand are doing , breaking the mould of the traditional law firm and looking at our clients’ needs.”
A final point from Peter: “Brexit and the uncertainty surrounding is obviously a really important thing, but the fact is that an international business looking at acquisitions around the world decided that Gibraltar was investable in.”