Hammonds seeks summary judgment in profit row

Hammonds has applied for summary judgment against seven former partners who are battling the firm over a £3m profit dispute.

The firm’s Leeds office chief Simon Miller, who is representing the firm, confirmed Hammonds has applied for summary judgment against Mark Hilton, Simon Palmer, Marija Danilunas, John Deacon, Jonathan Hosie, Martin Thomas and Stephen Tupper.

Miller said: “[It’s] on the basis that there is no defence in law to a large part of the claim made against them.”

Last year Hammonds followed through on its threat to sue a group of 14 partners who it alleges owed the firm money after over drawing in two financial years (The Lawyer, 18th June 2007).

The firm had asked the partners for a total of £3m, which was drawn during the 2004-05 financial year, in addition to repayments for 2003-04.

Miller said that since starting proceedings five of the defendants – Jonathan Moore, Mark Newcombe, Gerrard O’Neil, Dermot Preston, Nigel Proctor – have reached a settlement with the firm and a sixth is in advanced discussions.

“Over 90 per cent of the partners in the two relevant financial years have either reached terms with the firm, or are in the process of repaying overdrawings, including a large number of Former Partners,” added Miller.

The news comes as Addleshaw Goddard, acting for seven of the remaining nine ex-partners, have threatened to add the firm’s managing partner Peter Crossley to Hammonds’ claim against them for repayment of overdrawings. The former partners are also looking to add the estate of former senior partner Richard Burns, who died last month (The Lawyer, 20th May).

Miller added: “Hammonds believes these claims to be without merit and in all the circumstances to be wholly inappropriate.”

Gary Milner-Moore from Herbert Smith has been instructed to represent both Crossley and Burns’ estate.