Jones Day fights French headhunter fee ruling

Jones Day has become embroiled in a bitter five-year dispute with a French headhunter, which has involved allegations of harassment and threatening behaviour.

Eric Ohayon successfully sued Jones Day in a French court for E60,000 (£41,000) in October 2006 for breach of contract, having originally demanded E233,000 (£159,000). The firm is now appealing the judgment in the Versailles Court of Appeals.

Wesley Johnson, partner-in-charge of the Paris office, stated: “Mr Ohayon has been paid all fees due to him, his claim is without any legal basis and the firm has therefore appealed the trial court judgment.”

Jones Day submitted a brief to the court claiming Ohayon had been abusive, asking for E15,000 (£10,000) in damages, while Ohayon has made similar claims during his obsessive pursuit of the firm.

The Paris office of the US firm used Ohayon as a headhunter from 2000 to 2001 for a number of hires. When the firm stopped using his services, Ohayon went to a French civil court alleging breach of contract.

Jones Day claims it paid his retainer of Fr150,000 and said it would not contact any of the lawyers he put forward to fulfil their contractual obligations.

Jones Day has set aside the E60,000 for Ohayon in a separate bank account rather than pay immediately in case the appeal succeeds and Ohayon cannot pay the money back.

In the civil court proceedings, law firm SCP Gazagne Yon Levy acted for Ohayon and Moisan Aubert & Associés represented Jones Day.

Ohayon has since changed lawyers, instructing name partner Thibault de Montbrial of Montbrial et Associés.