White & Case laterals drop Herbert Smith for battle with Deacons

Herbert Smith has been ditched by the partners at the centre of Deacons’ successful Hong Kong court action against White & Case.

Former Deacons insolvency partners Mark Fairbairn and Edward Cairns are now being represented by Johnson Stokes & Master partner Nick Hunsworth. Hunsworth is also advising White & Case on the appeal against the Hong Kong High Court ruling.

A Herbert Smith source told The Lawyer that the partners’ decision to drop the firm was simply a way of cutting costs. “There was no point in spending money on two sets of lawyers,” he said.

However, Herbert Smith is still retained by Fairbairn, a former equity partner at Deacons, for the ongoing arbitration over a restrictive covenant relating to the 1999 merger agreement between Deacons and White & Case.

The court held in October that White & Case behaved illegally when it hired a rated restructuring team from Deacons.

It also ruled that White & Case encouraged Fairbairn and Cairns to breach their partnership contracts and persuade clients to move across with them to White & Case.