Freshfields under fire as new age claim emerges

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer is preparing to fight more than one discrimination case as another former partner files a claim.

Freshfields’ former corporate partner Lois Moore, who is now at Shearman & Sterling, has filed a claim against the magic circle firm, while at least one other former partner has also consulted solicitors about a potential claim, The Lawyer can reveal.

The news comes as Freshfields fights an age discrimination claim brought by former insolvency partner Peter Bloxham, who is arguing that he was forced to retire early and therefore accept a smaller pension.

Freshfields rigorously denies Bloxham’s claim and declined to comment on Moore.

Moore’s name has had prominence during Bloxham’s hearing, which started on 9 July. She was a member of a group named the Grey Panthers. The group represented older partners’ interests during the controversial pension reforms, which saw Freshfields’ unfunded pension replaced with the index-linked, less generous Schedule 2A pension. How official the group was is a subject of debate between the firm and Bloxham.

Freshfields has instructed lawyers on the Moore case. Lewis Silkin head of employment Michael Burd, who is leading the Bloxham case, will be joined by employment partner Hazel Oliver.

It is understood that Herbert Smith senior partner David Gold is advising Moore on her claim.

Gold is also advising Freshfields’ former co-head of disputes Jo Rickard in her separate disagreement with the firm over the pension’s restrictive covenant. It is understood that she is currently in mediation with Freshfields.

Meanwhile, in the final moments of questioning at Bloxham’s hearing on 13 July, Freshfields managing partner Peter Jeffcote admitted that the firm is also in an ongoing dispute with a male partner over whether the firm had to give consent to his leaving with his old pension intact, as revealed by The Lawyer (13 July). The case continues.