It is alleged in the partnership dispute, which unusually is being fought at a London employment tribunal, that Sîan Fellows, a consultant at Richards Butler, and Sîan Heard, a solicitor at More Fisher Brown, were discriminated against by being denied entry into Sinclair Roche’s equity partnership, as they are both female and married.
They claim they were not provided with work and that recognition was not given to their development abilities.
Fellows and Heard were partners rather than employees and were therefore responsible for developing their own practices, said Julian Roskill, the Mayer Brown Rowe & Maw partner acting for Sinclair Roche. Roskill is instructing Ian Gatt QC of Littleton Chambers.
Roskill added: “We say that the claims are factually inaccurate and contrary to the evidence, as well as contrary to their responsibilities to their fellow partners to develop and maintain their own practices.”
The defendant Stephenson Harwood partners are former managing and senior partners of Sinclair Roche Struan Robertson and Jeff Morgan, and partners Stuart Beadnall and Michael Stockwood.
The claimants recently dropped Trowers & Hamlins as their lawyers and are instructing Jennifer Eady of Old Square Chambers direct.
Meanwhile, Sinclair Roche is fighting a negligence finding for its conduct while acting for former client Somatra. If it fails in its appeal, which it was given leave to pursue last week (The Lawyer, 31 March), it faces an £18m bill.