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DR specialist to lead Fitness First legal team

DR specialist to lead Fitness First legal team

The head of dispute resolution service WISDOMdr has just landed the top legal job at Fitness First.

Tony Dempsey (pictured), a professional Rugby Union player turned lawyer, has joined the health club chain to run its legal department of four lawyers.

He will stay on at WISDOMdr as an owner, handing over responsibility for the everyday running of the business to a panel of mediators.

Dempsey established WISDOMdr in 2010 with former Herbert Smith Freehills lawyer David Vaux. Prior to co-founding the dispute resolution business, Dempsey was CEO and general counsel of the Australian Rugby Union Players Association and, before that, a lawyer at Clayton Utz.

Fitness First advertised the position late last year and attracted around 180 candidates.

Dempsey, a member of Fitness First for 13 years, told Lawyers Weekly he is excited about starting his new role at a time when the company is reinventing itself.

“It’s an exciting time to be involved in an organisation that has a clear direction and strategy and a lot of new staff with energy and enthusiasm,” he said.

Fitness First recently announced it was overhauling its brand and business with a $5 million marketing campaign and a $40 million investment in its gyms, products and services in Australia.

The move follows a change in ownership in 2012. UK private equity group BC Partners sold the debt-laden business to Oaktree Capital Management, a global asset management firm that also owns the Nine Network and Billabong.

The sale prompted a $910 million financial restructuring of Fitness First in 2013, which saw the chain sell off 24 of its 97 Australian gyms.

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