Dibbs faces union complaint

DIBB Lupton Broomhead faces possible legal action or a complaint to the Solicitors Complaints Bureau (SCB) from a client.

The complaint centres on the Leeds-based firm's decision to terminate a lawyer's involvement in a case weeks before a major High Court trial involving millions of pounds.

The action is against a company, Milton Medes, over its handling of the pension funds of two businesses it acquired from Imperial Group. The client, the Graphical, Paper and Media Union (GPMU), is upset that the firm has taken pensions law consultant Sean Hand off the case at such a late stage in the proceedings.

The GPMU faxed Dibbs last week requesting an urgent meeting to discuss the situation in the hope that it can restore Hand to the case or see if the firm has a convincing argument for his removal.

GPMU national officer John Mitchell says: “Our concern is that without the knowledge and experience Sean Hand gained over the last five years on the case, there is a real prospect that the case will suffer.”

Mitchell says the union is happy with Dibbs' work, but adds: “We are considering what other legal action is open to us to ensure the plaintiff members' views are not submerged. I would certainly not rule out the SCB.”

The GPMU is understood to be instructing City firm Hobson Audley to seek a court order re-appointing Hand. The order is needed because the case is now in the hands of judicial trustees.

Neil Micklethwaite, Dibb's head of litigation, says his decision to terminate Hand's role in December was to improve co-ordination in the firm. It was “simply a logistical decision,” he says.

Dibbs has the benefit of Hand's knowledge in its paperwork and will reassure the union over its concerns, Micklethwaite says.

Hand says he was “surprised and disappointed at the decision to terminate my consultancy when I was on holiday”.