SJ Berwin partner drawn into Compere conflicts row along with Herbies’ Rosen

SJ Berwin has been sucked into the conflicts row involving Herbert Smith advocacy head Murray Rosen QC.

Compere Associates is lodging a conflict of interest complaint with the Law Society against SJ Berwin partner Richard Slowe regarding litigation in 2004.

Compere has already filed a formal complaint with the Bar Council, accusing Rosen of the same misdemeanour.

Compere directors John Moreland-Lynn and Tom Crema launched litigation in 2001 against businessmen Keith Halsey and Andreas Heeschen for breach of fiduciary duty and misuse of confidentiality agreements, instructing Reynolds Porter Chamberlain (RPC) and Hardwicke Building’s Nigel Jones QC. The four were involved in a bid for German arms manufacturer Heckler & Koch. Halsey and Heeschen eventually put in a successful rival bid in 2002, prompting Compere’s lawsuit.

Moreland-Lynn said he replaced RPC and Jones with SJ Berwin and Rosen (then a tenant at 11 Stone Buildings) in mid-2004 after the firm offered a conditional fee agreement (CFA). The case settled for E4.3m (£2.9m) in 2004 after mediation.

Moreland-Lynn claims Slowe was conflicted because he had previously worked with businessmen Tony Buckingham and Michael Grunberg, who negotiated Halsey and Heeschen’s settlement.

He also claims that SJ Berwin made around E2m (£1.4m) from the settlement and did not uphold the CFA.

The Rosen complaint arose after Moreland-Lynn read in The Lawyer (21 March 2005) that the barrister was joining Herbert Smith. Herbert Smith advised Halsey and Heeschen, and Compere alleges that Rosen was negotiating his appointment during the litigation.

The Bar Council, Herbert Smith and SJ Berwin declined to comment.