Freshfields girds itself for age discrimination fight

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has increased the number of witnesses it intends to call for the age discrimination claim of former insolvency partner Peter Bloxham, which starts a week today.

It is understood that Bloxham’s claim relates to the controversial pension reforms that the magic circle firm instigated last year, but neither Bloxham nor his lawyer will reveal complete details of the claim until the hearing.

Advising Bloxham is Dawsons Solicitors’ co-head of litigation Jo Keddie, who has instructed Tim Pitt-Payne of 11 KBW. Freshfields has turned to Lewis Silkin‘s head of employment Michael Burd and Dinah Rose QC of Blackstone Chambers.

The hearing, which starts on 9 July at the London Central Employment Tribunal, is slated to run for nine days, a long hearing for an employment case.

A source from the Freshfields side said that the firm had only given an estimate at the February case-management meeting of the number of witnesses who would be called. It is understood that some Freshfields witnesses will be heavyweight partners of the firm, including some on the partnership council.

Freshfields declined to comment, but a source close to the case said: “It’s terribly unfortunate that Freshfields has to meet a former partner in a tribunal. We believe it’s a misconceived case but we’re not out to make any capital from it.”

Bloxham was one of 30 partners to retire from the equity partnership at Freshfields in October 2006 to take advantage of the old Schedule 2 pension scheme.

It is understood that other claims hang on the outcome of Bloxham’s hearing.