Lester Aldridge has started punitive legal action against its head of banking and finance Kevin Heath in an attempt to enforce one of the most outrageous restrictive covenants.
The covenant would force Heath to repay 30 per cent of all fees earned from former Lester Aldridge clients for a year after he has left the firm. On the advice of his barrister, Heath declined to talk about the matter to The Lawyer.
Lester Aldridge has suffered a series of departures recently, losing almost 10 per cent of its partnership in the last year alone. Three of the Southampton office's founding partners quit in the last six months. Matthew Barker and Robert Chapman left for Clarke Willmott and Simon Rhodes joined Trethowans. In addition, Joanne Mc-Guinness quit for Shoosmiths and Bill McAffrey has also resigned. The firm currently has a partnership of 55.
Noting these exits and the suit against Heath, with tongue planted firmly in cheek, a source at the firm pointed out: "The litigation team goes from strength to strength."
It is understood that a 30 per cent rule is written into the partnership deed, but this is the first time the firm has enforced the covenant on a departing partner.
Heath has been with the firm since 1992, becoming a partner three years later. He specialises in asset finance and insolvency litigation. Among the large pool of clients Heath could be taking with him are Abbey National, Lloyds TSB Asset Finance and Singer & Friedlander Finance.