+971 56 683 0775 (UAE)
+64 21 562 082 (NZ)
Joby Beretta, Founder and Director
Joby has over 19 years’ experience gained both in-house and private practice in the UK, UAE and New Zealand. He has an extensive range of TMT experience including commercial, intellectual property, technology, e-commerce, start-ups, outsourcing, media & entertainment, franchising, sponsorship, telecommunications, data protection and sports law.
He also advises owners, investors and operators on hotel management, licence, centralised services technical services and associated agreements. He also has significant experience of acting for both franchisees and franchisors of F&B operations.
Who's Who Legal 2016 described Joby 'as a “standout” lawyer in the Middle East. His expertise spans entertainment, sports, franchise and IT law, and he is “incredibly gifted”. Clients appreciate his “industry insight” gained while working in-house, and having been based in Dubai since 2003, he has a “great appreciation for the cultural nuances of the region”.
Band 1 Ranked Lawyer - TMT - UAE by Chambers
Leading Individual - TMT - UAE by Legal 500
Who's Who of Sports and Entertainment Lawyers
Big Law Training New Law MindsEts
+971 56 341 9649
Aston Benjamin-Taylor, Head of Hotels & Leisure
Aston is an English qualified commercial lawyer, with twelve years' post qualification experience gained internationally in both private practice and in-house. Having trained and qualified at a top tier City firm, Aston moved from London to the UAE in 2012.
Aston has a broad range of corporate, commercial and IP experience including Joint ventures, collaboration agreements, brand development and overall strategic legal advice. He has vast experience in advising on hospitality business affairs including hotel operations, management agreements and franchise deals; food and beverage agreements; capital projects and 'business as usual' legal issues. Aston's hospitality experience spans Europe, Turkey, the Middle East and Asia.
Prior to joining The Bench, Aston worked in-house at Jumeirah Group as Senior Legal Counsel and in private practice with Support Legal, Curtis and Lewis Silkin.
Chris Appleby, Senior Consultant
Chris has over 25 years’ experience gained with both international law firms and in-house. He has an extensive range of IT experience including large scale systems integration, outsourcing and government procurement.
Prior to joining The Bench, Chris was the Middle East head of Technology, Media and Telecom (TMT) for both Dentons - the world’s largest law firm and Al Tamimi & Co - the Middle East’s largest firm. Before that Chris was in-house at Dell Services in Qatar and Vodafone Qatar.
Chris is dual qualified in New Zealand and New South Wales (Australia).
Elise Gillians, Senior Consultant
Elise has spent her entire career since qualification working in the UAE, starting initially in private practice at Pinsent Masons and Clyde & Co and later transitioned in-house. She has a broad range of experience but specialises in construction, engineering and infrastructure and has worked on a number of landmark hotel, leisure and entertainment projects in the region.
Her last role prior to joining The Bench was Vice President – Legal Affairs at Dubai Parks and Resorts PJSC, whilst concurrently Legal Director at its parent company Meraas Holding.
Elise is a solicitor qualified in England and Wales.
Will Jackson, Senior Consultant
Will is an experienced senior counsel with a demonstrated history of working in the IT and services industry. His areas of expertise include IT law (including SAAS), complex outsourcing, privacy, e-commerce, international business and joint ventures.
He was previously Associate General Counsel at Sabre Corporation based in the UK and is qualified in England and Wales.
Ahmed has spent most of his career working in-house with some of the largest banks in the world.
He has over 14 years of experience which spans across corporate / commercial, banking, syndicated financing, project finance, trade and receivables finance, structured commodities finance, payments and cash management, real-estate, employment, competition, IT, outsourcing, digital banking and fintech.
Ahmed has been working in the UAE for the last 8 years. Prior to joining the Bench Ahmed was Vice President – Group Head of Advisory for Emirates NBD Bank. Prior to that he held senior positions at First Abu Dhabi Bank, HSBC and Barclays in Dubai, Hong Kong and Egypt.
Ahmed is an Egyptian qualified lawyer.
Ahmed Thabet, Legal Director
+971 52 908 4892 (UAE)
+20 122 957 3697(Egypt)
Nadia Barton, Senior Consultant
Nadia joins The Bench from Dentons, Dubai where she was a Senior Legal Consultant in the Construction & Dispute Resolution practice. She is a construction & engineering law practitioner with over 20 years’ experience, specialising in major projects, commercial property and infrastructure development with extensive experience in PPP/PFI both in the UK and internationally. Most recently Nadia has been advising Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC) on the mega mixed-use property development, Uptown Dubai. Prior to relocating to Dubai in 2010, Nadia worked at Clifford Chance, London and Simmons & Simmons, London and Paris.
Former Managing Editor of Construction Law International, a quarterly legal journal published by the IBA. Nadia is qualified in England and Wales.
+971 55 886 3724
Gerard Hobby, Senior Consultant
+971 50 455 9357
Gerard has over 26 years' experience in the MENA region, including over 20 years in Dubai. He has a broad range of commercial experience in corporate, contract, private client, regulatory law and related disciplines across international borders.
Gerard was part of the team that established the Dubai Technology and Media Free Zone (now the Dubai Development Authority Free Zone) in the early 2000s. Subsequent to that he was Chief Legal Officer (General Counsel) of Dubai Holding LLC (the holding company for the Jumeirah Group, Dubai Properties Group and TECOM Investments) from its inception in 2004 until 2017, and more recently, the Registrar of Companies for the Dubai Development Authority Free Zone.
Gerard is dual qualified in England and New Zealand.
Hameed Almihdar, Senior Consultant
+971 56 778 2088
Hameed is a senior lawyer with over 9 years’ experience in the region. He has a wide range of experience including real estate, hospitality, retail, corporate and commercial, disputes, and employment matters. His clients include real estate developers, asset managers, landlords, hotel operators and owners.
Hameed joins The Bench from Nakheel where he was Senior Legal Counsel at Nakheel for over 6 years, during which time his work was recognised in the Legal 500 GC Powerlist 2018. Before that he trained and qualified with the world’s largest law firm, Dentons. While at Nakheel Hameed has worked on a number of hotels including projects under Starwood, Accor, Premier Inn, RIU and Centara brands. Hameed has also overseen DIAC and DIFC-LCIA multimillion dollar arbitrations, as well as Dubai Courts litigation, involving real estate and construction disputes.
Hameed is qualified in England & Wales and is fluent in both English and Arabic.