The Ince lawyer exodus has moved up another notch with the departure of the troubled UK firm’s global head of marine projects.

Stuart McAlpine has joined rival Stephenson Harwood, strengthening its ship and offshore finance practice.

McAlpine will work in London for his new company, after three-and-a-half years at Ince.

He was previously at Clyde & Co and Watson Farley & Williams, and began his career as a shipping lawyer at Sinclair Roche & Temperley in 1988.

Stephenson Harwood said McAlpine is a highly experienced ship finance, offshore finance and shipping projects partner.

Clients include banks, shipowners, trading houses, energy companies and others involved in all aspects of the shipping and energy industries, including renewables.

“Transportation and trade, and decarbonisation are two of the firm’s main areas of focus, in which to grow our business and develop our expertise,” said Tammy Samuel, finance practice group leader at Stephenson Harwood.

“Stuart’s extensive experience, gained across more than 35 years in private practice, will strengthen our global ship and offshore finance team, as well as enhancing our renewable energy offering as part of our growth plans.”

Ship finance head Ian Mace said the new recruit’s experience and connections “will not only boost our London team but also enhance our practice globally, due to his strong connections with financiers, shipowners and operators across Europe and Asia”.

Already this month, three Ince lawyers and a trainee have agreed to join Penningtons Manches Cooper, joining a stream of talent from the group. Seven maritime law specialists left to join Birketts last week.

The departures come as reports emerged that its owner, Axiom Ince, is being investigated on suspicion of using client funds for a number of acquisitions made this year, including the buy-out of Ince from administration in April.

On Monday, it was reported that Axiom Ince has applied to the High Court in London giving notice of its intention to appoint administrators.

According to reports in The Law Society Gazette and The Lawyer, legal adviser Devonshires Solicitors made the application at the weekend.

The Ince & Co website has been closed down.