Bloxham won’t appeal; Freshfields drops costs claim

Former Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer insolvency partner Peter Bloxham has decided not to appeal against the judgment that found unanimously for his former firm in an age discrimination claim he brought.

The news means that Freshfields has no more pending lawsuits against it this year.

Bloxham said in a statement through his solicitors Dawsons that he considers there are potential grounds of appeal regarding a number of legal and factual submissions that have not been addressed by the Tribunal.

“However, [I am] mindful that any appeal to the Employment Appeal Tribunal may well be protracted and may not bring the case to an end for either party, whatever its outcome. [I have] therefore decided that the best course is to bring this litigation to an end and, as a result, will not be lodging an appeal.”

Bloxham had until yesterday (20 November) to make a decision on whether or not to appeal the case. An appeal was only possible on points of law rather than fact.

A spokesperson for Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer said: “We have regretted the pursuit of this claim by a former partner of the firm and are pleased that this case is now closed.

“In order to put this matter behind us, the firm will not be pursuing the claim to recover a portion of its costs, which we had to register by 10 November to reserve our position.”

Bloxham brought a £4.5m age claim against Freshfields after the firm introduced controversial reforms that scrapped its unfunded pension named Schedule II.

Bloxham, who was 54 when he retired from Freshfields’ equity, claimed three counts of direct and indirect discrimination. He alleged that the reforms had “forced” him to retire and that pension modification was just a guise for pushing out expensive older partners of the equity during a time of firmwide restructuring

The Central Employment Tribunal found unanimously for Freshfields. Although it decided that older partners were unfavourably treated on account of their age by the reforms, it found that there was no fairer way of overhauling its pension, which was a legitimate goal.

Age discrimination differs from other forms of discrimination in that if it is found to be a justifiable means to a legitimate end, it is permissible.

Freshfields announced two weeks ago that it would make an application for costs against Bloxham, who could face a bill of at least £100,000 if that application is successful (see www.thelawyer.com, 8 November).

Former corporate partner Lois Moore and former banking partner David Ereira also withdrew their similar claims against Freshfields earlier this year.

Lewis Silkin advised Freshfields on all three cases.

Former co-head of disputes Jo Rickard, now at Shearman & Sterling, continues to challenge the restricted covenant in her Freshfields pension. She is advised by Herbert Smith senior partner David Gold.