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Clifford Chance and Lewis Silkin are going head to head in an unusual libel battle between Deutsche Bank and former bank employee Stuart Bray.
Mr Justice Tugendhat of the Queen's Bench Division heard the case in which a bank, rather than a newspaper, has been sued for libel. Bray claims Deutsche Bank damaged his reputation by implying in a press release that he was responsible for illegal transactions.
The case reaches the highest levels of Deutsche Bank's management hierarchy. The defendants are four senior figures at the bank, but their names have been kept confidential.
Lewis Silkin is trying to lift that confidentiality and will know by September whether or not the defendants can be named at the trial.
Tugendhat J said in his judgment: "The allegations made in this action could, if they go forward and if they are proved at any trial, have significant consequences for those individuals and for the bank, and possibly in the financial markets."
He added: "The allegations are a story of rivalry, and of blaming a former colleague to keep oneself out of trouble. The setting is the highest levels of the banking world, where millions of dollars are at stake."
Clifford Chance, acting for Deutsche Bank, attempted to strike the case from the court list but was denied by Tugendhat J.
Giles Crown, the media litigation partner at Lewis Silkin leading the case for Stuart Bray, said: "They were claiming that there was no case, but the judge's decision says the case is fit to go to court."
Clifford Chance litigation partner Simon Davis is leading Deutsche Bank's defence, together with associate Ed Cross.
Lewis Silkin has instructed ;One ;Brick ;Court's Richard Rampton QC and Jane Phillips. Clifford Chance has instructed Andrew Caldecott QC and Catrin Evans, also from One Brick Court.