SHIPPING firm Sinclair Roche & Temperley lost another batch of key staff last week as eight lawyers - including four partners - quit to join a rival practice.
The departing members of Sinclair Roche's shipping group will join Stephenson Harwood to strengthen its expanding maritime division.
They follow on from the departure announced two weeks ago of Robin Hallam, head of aviation, and two solicitors to Lovell White Durrant.
The shipping lawyers are believed to have left because of differences over strategy. John Morris, senior partner at Sinclair Roche, says: "These days, when people disagree, they get up and walk."
Stephenson Harwood's new recruits include Robin Slade, an admiralty lawyer who will join the division headed by his brother David. Another admiralty specialist, Simon Tatham, is also moving.
The other partners leaving are shipping finance practitioners Mark Russell and Helen Boyle. Four assistants, Peter Booker, Peter Harris, Arlene Dourish and Sheila Obhrai will join them.
David Slade says: "I am delighted that these partners have chosen to join us. They are able, well-known and respected in their fields." The shipping practice now has 35 specialists.
Sources say the staff moved for a variety of reasons. It is understood there was suspicion at the firm that the Slade family connection played a part. However, Stephenson Harwood has played down the link.
Sinclair Roche says the departures will have little effect on the running of the division. Morris says the shipping group has more than 100 lawyers, including about 35 partners.
It has also moved to plug the gap left by the aviation departures by appointing David Relf head of the unit. Relf has been a partner at Sinclair Roche for nine years.