The Lawyer Africa Elite 2014 features an in-depth look at 46 leading independent firms’ strategies in 15 key sub-Saharan jurisdictions, as well as the views of in-house counsel from some of Africa’s largest companies... Read more
This year, The Lawyer’s annual ranking of the largest UK law firms by turnover is available as an interactive, digital benchmarking tool. For the first time this will allow you to manipulate each data set against the metrics of your choice.
In a dramatic turnaround, White & Case has lost its case against Hong Kong firm Deacons over a team of star insolvency partners the US firm recruited in summer 2002.
When White & Case poached rated Deacons partners Mark Fairbairn and Edward Cairns, Deacons hit back with a Hong Kong lawsuit claiming the two were in breach of their partnership covenants and that White & Case had encouraged the pair to break them.
The judge said White & Case's conduct, "amounts to a cynical disregard for the rights of Deacons, putting profit before honour, it is below the belt."
Last Febrary an arbitrator ruled that Deacons could not hold the two partners to a five year restrictive covenant that prevented them from moving to White & Case. Fairburn and Cairns then started work at the US firm.
However, Deacons appealed the arbitrator's ruling and pressed ahead with parallel High Court litigation against both White & Case and the two partners.
The Hong Kong court today released its judgement upholding several of Deacons' key claims. According to a statement - issued by the Hong Kong firm, the judge found that:
- Fairbairn and Cairns failed to comply with their obligations and duties as partners of Deacons.
- While still partners of Deacons, Fairbairn and Cairns passed confidential information to the White & Case management.
- Fairbairn and Cairns attempted to persuade clients of Deacons to transfer their work to White & Case.
- White & Case encouraged Fairbairn & Cairns to breach their contractual obligations.
- White & Case further encouraged Fairbairn and Cairns to attempt to persuade clients to transfer their work to White & Case.
The judgment is a major blow for White & Case which has been attempting to build up its restructuring practice in Asia. A later hearing will be held to assess Deacons' damages.