Clifford Chance settles with expelled partner

Clifford Chance has finally settled its acrimonious feud with former Bangkok managing partner Wirot Poonsuwan.

Poonsuwan, the first-ever partner to be expelled from the partnership, had previously snubbed Clifford Chance’s attempt to settle a multimillion pound legal wrangle.

However, it is understood that a settlement was signed yesterday evening. The terms are undisclosed. Poonsuwan had demanded £30m after being suspended from the firm in August following concerns about his contribution.

Poonsuwan made a series of allegations against Clifford Chance, alleging race discrimination and tax fraud. He also launched a criminal prosecution suit against Bangkok partner Tim Jeffares for alleged defamation.

The proposed expulsion was first revealed by The Lawyer on 13 January 2003. Poonsuwan was officially expelled from the firm with effect from 31 March. At the time, Peter Cornell, managing partner at Clifford Chance, said: “Poonsuwan’s actions were unacceptable and incompatible with partnership. The firm rejects his allegations and is satisfied that there is no substance to them.”

In a statement issued today Clifford Chance said: “Wirot Poonsuwan and Clifford Chance/Clifford Chance Thailand Limited announced today that disputes between them have been resolved. Wirot Poonsuwan has withdrawn his claim for defamation against Clifford Chance partner Tim Jeffares, and has waived any other claims. Clifford Chance/Clifford Chance Thailand have agreed to make a payment to Wirot Poonsuwan, the amount of which remains confidential.”

While the settlement will be welcome news at Clifford Chance, the firm still has another legal action hanging over its head. Staff and partners from Brobeck Phleger & Harrison have brought a $100m damages claim against Clifford Chance and their former chairman Tower Snow. They claim that both triggered the collapse of Brobeck when a 16-partner team led by Snow moved to Clifford Chance.