An Allen & Overy (A&O) partner is to give evidence on the use of non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) in sexual harassment cases after it emerged that the firm had represented Harvey Weinstein nearly two decades ago.
Employment partner Mark Mansell is to appear before the Women and Equalities Committee on Wednesday alongside Zelda Perkins, a former assistant to Weinstein.
Simons Muirhead & Burton partner Tamara Ludlow will also appear at the session. The firm is understood to have represented Perkins when she claimed she was sexually harassed by Weinstein in 1999. Her story first became public in an article in the Financial Times last year.
Ahead of the hearing, the Committee requested a copy of the NDA signed by Perkins from A&O. However, the request was declined because Weinstein “refused permission to release it”.
The film mogul, Miramax and Disney were all offered an opportunity to give a written statement or oral evidence to the Committee, but declined.
An A&O spokesperson said: “Mark Mansell has been invited by the Women and Equalities Committee to give evidence for an inquiry into sexual harassment in the workplace.
“The inquiry is looking into the advantages and disadvantages of using non-disclosure agreements in sexual harassment cases. Mark has been asked to give evidence in his capacity as one of the country’s leading employment lawyers with relevant expertise.”
Wednesday’s session will focus on the use of NDAs and address concerns that they may be used to conceal improper behaviour from the authorities.
Mansell and Ludlow are expected to answer questions on the benefits and risks of NDAs, as well as what advice is provided to individuals signing the documents.
Multiple law firms have been embroiled in cases involving Weinstein. At the end of last year, Boies Schiller & Flexner and K&L Gates were caught up in a class action claim alongside corporate executives and entertainment industry individuals as part of a so-called “Weinstein Sexual Enterprise”.
A K&L Gates spokesperson said: “We are aware of the lawsuits filed against Harvey Weinstein and others that mention K&L Gates. K&L Gates is not named as a defendant in the lawsuits but the suits attempt to claim that the firm was involved in a scheme to facilitate or cover up Mr. Weinstein’s activities. The claims relating to K&L Gates are false. K&L Gates has never represented Mr. Weinstein or any other person or entity concerning investigations or inquiries relating to Mr. Weinstein.”
Fieldfisher launched the first civil claim against Weinstein in the UK, on behalf of a private client against the film producer, the Weinstein Company UK and the Weinstein Company LLC in the US.