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Freshfields chases Bloxham for £100k costs

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  • Pour encourager les autres

    While he lost on most points I think that Bloxham raised some valid issues, and the tribunal did come to the conclusion that Freshfields acted in a discriminatory manner. It would be harsh if the tribunal were to award costs against Bloxham given that he established discrimination. Freshfields seem to want to destroy Bloxham "pour encourager les autres". I don't think that it is a smart move.

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  • Misguided

    I wonder if Freshfields consider the M&S/Arcadia affair "misguided".

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  • Just wrong

    That Bloxham's claim failed, even unanimously, does not for a moment entitle Freshfields to costs. That is life in the Employment Tribunal, like it or not. There is nothing in the detail of the ruling to suggest that his claim was brought or pursued unreasonably. In their shoes I would be more worried that Bloxham would be awarded the costs of defending their obviously misconceived costs application, surely the PR own-goal of a life-time.

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  • Bloxham

    My recollection is that Freshfields was held to have been guilty of age discrimination but that the discrimination was held to have been justified in the circumstances of the case.

    Am I wrong in thinking that in no other area of the law of discrimination except age discrimination in the UK is justification a defence and that in some countries, such as the USA, this defence is not available in the case of age discrimination? If I am correct Freshfields is asking for costs for discriminating against Bloxham when Bloxham demonstrated successfully that he was the victim of dicrimination. Bloxham was entitled to pursue a claim for damages as is shown by the fact that the pension reform itself was held to be discimination on age grounds.

    If the case against discrimination was based on sex, race or religion the unique defence of justification would not be available to Freshfields and Freshfields would have lost the case. In these circumstances, is it unreasonable to ask, given the contribution made by Peter Bloxham as a partner and leader of their insolvency practice for a very substantial period of time, why in the name of justice and respect for a valued servant to the firm is Freshfields pursuing costs against him?

    Pour encourager les autres? This is the cliched and timeworn tactic of the tyrant and the bully. If Freshfields treat as long-serving and loyal partners as Peter Bloxham this way it will only deter good lawyers who believe in individual justice, loyalty and proportionality from joining or staying with them. Still on the bright side it will need some clever drafting and make interesting reading in the firm's next edition of their prize winning CSR report, Making A Difference, to explain the firm's actions against its professed HR and ethical values. Perhaps, suitable titles for the piece would be "Magic Circle Firm Sues Aged Alumnus" or "Petty Moi?"?

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  • How does this look to current and future partners?

    Why do firms behave like this? There is no automatic right to costs before the ET and, as others have said, he established a precedent and clarified an important area of law.

    This just looks like “now that we have won, we want to teach him a lesson”. It almost appears as if the thinking is to send a message to others who might take on the firm, but in truth a very different message is being sent to current partners and to future potential partners.

    Some law firms do not seem to understand that all partners become former partners. When a current partner sees former partners treated like this, do they really cheer and say “serves you right” or do they feel embarrassed and uncomfortable? When a potential partner sees treatment like this, do they really think “that is just the firm for me”?

    The adverse PR from this action is worth far more than a speculative punt at £100k.

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  • Justification for Discrimination

    Since the last poster raised it, age discrimination isn't the only area where there is a justification defence - employers may invoke "justification" if they discriminate ("indirectly" but not "directly") on grounds of disability too. Welcome to the wacky world of employment law!
    Freshfields will lose this application and will look very silly and very vindictive.

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