Deacons and White & Case await judgment as court battle concludes

The controversial action by Deacons against White & Case and two of its former partners finally concluded in the Hong Kong High Court yesterday (18 September).
The parties are now waiting for Deputy Judge Gill’s decision, which is expected to be announced next month.
As revealed by The Lawyer (8 July 2002), White & Case became embroiled in the litigation after it hired a highly-rated insolvency team from Deacons’ Hong Kong office. Deacons alleges that the US firm’s approach to the four partners breached a confidentiality and non-solicitation clause from a 1999 merger agreement between the firms.
Deacons also claims that former partners Mark Fairbairn and Edward Cairns breached their fiduciary duties.
Deacons is seeking damages and an injunction to prevent White & Case from acting for clients, including Standard Chartered Bank, that it has allegedly illegally solicited from the Hong Kong firm.
The trial, which started on 6 August is one of the most high-profile cases to hit the Hong Kong legal market. Ten years ago, a similar case, Kao Lee & Yip v Koo Hoi Yan & ors was heard in the Hong Kong High Court. In that case partner Donald Koo was ordered to account for profits which he earned from Bank of China, a client he had improperly solicited from his former firm.