White & Case challenges Hong Kong court ruling

White & Case intends to appeal against a recent Hong Kong high court ruling that it behaved illegally when hiring a Deacons restructuring team.

The court ruled two weeks ago that White & Case encouraged insolvency lawyers Mark Fairbairn and Edward Cairns to breach their partnership contracts and persuade clients to move with them to White & Case. A damages hearing is likely to take place early next year, although the judge dismissed Deacons’ claims that White & Case breached a non-solicitation clause relating to the firms’ merger talks in 1999.

A White & Case spokesperson said: “The firm is gratified that the judgment vindicates our position in key areas, especially the rights of clients to select the law firms of their choice. The judge found no cause for injunctive relief and dismissed several allegations made against White & Case and our partners, including claims that a Non-Solicitation Agreement was breached and that the partners improperly referred business to our firm.”

Deacons managing partner Lindsay Ester said: “We can’t imagine why White & Case would want to have their conduct reviewed by the Court of Appeal. We actually thought the judge was rather conservative in his comments.”