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Herbert Smith Freehills has appointed Disputes Partner Alan Watts as its new Head of Commercial Litigation in London.

Alan will take over in January 2016 from Tim Parkes, who will take up his prestigious new role as Chair of the Financial Conduct Authority's Regulatory Decisions Committee and of the new Payment Systems Regulator's Enforcement Decisions Committee in the New Year.

Alan has been with the firm for 27 years, joining as a trainee and then becoming a partner in legacy firm Herbert Smith in 1998.  He has carved out an exceptional legal career, acting on some leading cases including: Alan Sugar –v- Associated Newspapers; Virgin Radio –v- Chris Evans; and Martin John Coward –v- IKOS Asset management Ltd and others.

Lauded by Chambers as being a "super litigator", Alan is experienced in all forms of dispute resolution including High Court litigation, arbitration and mediation proceedings. His expertise encompasses sports law, media and entertainment law, company and commercial disputes, professional negligence claims and defamation matters. Legal 500 describes him as "an expert in partnership matters, with bags of experience".

He is also an important figure in the commercial litigation group as well as being a mentor for many of the firm's junior and senior lawyers.

Alan will work closely with Alex Oddy, who will remain deputy head of Commercial Litigation in London.

Justin D'Agostino, Global Head of the firm's Dispute Resolution Practice commented: "Alan is a senior, heavy-hitting litigation partner, who is the perfect fit to lead our prominent Commercial Litigation Practice in London. He is sought out by clients for difficult and complex cases often involving proceedings in numerous jurisdictions across the globe. His experience in all forms of dispute resolution including High Court litigation, arbitration and mediation proceedings will ensure he continues to guard the leading Herbert Smith Freehills brand and continue to drive forward our Commercial Litigation Practice in London."

Alan said: "I am extremely proud to have been asked to lead our market leading commercial litigation practice in London. Throughout my time with the firm commercial litigation has been one of the crown jewels of the firm with some outstanding practitioners, a number of whom I have been lucky enough to work with. My aim is for the practice to continue to be recognised as the leader in its field, at the forefront of the changes necessary as the way litigation is conducted meets the challenges of technology and costs and to bring through the next generation of outstanding practitioners for the firm."