Date set for the Deacons-White & Case Hong Kong showdown

The controversial action by Deacons against White & Case and two of its former partners is due to be heard in the Hong Kong High Court next Monday (2 June).

As revealed in The Lawyer (8 July), White & Case became embroiled in the court battle after it poached a highly-rated insolvency team from Deacons’ Hong Kong office. Deacons alleges that the US firm’s approach to four of its partners breached a non-solicitation clause from a 1999 merger agreement between the two firms.

Deacons also alleges that Mark Fairburn and Edward Cairns breached fiduciary duties during the course of their move to White & Case. The two partners, who are being advised by Nigel Francis of Herbert Smith, were added as defendants last September after Deacons filed an amended statement of claim.

As revealed in The Lawyer (3 February), Fairburn and Cairns emerged victorious from an arbitration against Deacons over the breach of a seven-year restrictive covenant that prevented former partners of the firm from practising in Hong Kong during that period. Deacons has now lodged an appeal to get the ruling overruled, but no date has yet been set for its application for leave to appeal to be heard.

Last month the High Court ruled in favour of Kao Lee & Yip in a case against the firm’s former partner Donald Koo, who set up his own firm. That case involved similar questions of law to the White & Case trial.

White & Case declined to comment.