Both Hammonds and a group of former partners locked in a profits dispute are hailing a High Court judgment handed down today
Mr Justice Warren ruled that the former partners may be bound by the Hammonds partnership deed to pay back anticipated profits which they received over a two year period until 2005.
Simon Miller, Hammonds’ Leeds chief who is advising the firm, said: “Hammonds takes no pleasure from its success before the court. To date we’ve managed to reach sensible and fair settlements with over 90% of affected partners and we continue to search for a resolution to this dispute.”
Warren J said in his judgment: “I therefore conclude that the Partners referred to in the first sentence of Clause 16.2 are the individuals who were, at any time during the Partnership Year in question, Partners in the Partnership.”
Meanwhile Warren J refused Hammonds’ request to strike out a counter-claim against the firm from the former partners.
“Although it is open to me to resolve legal issues – even difficult ones – on a summary judgment application, I do not consider that this is a case where I should do so, particularly given the strength of the argument in favour of the Addleshaw Defendants,” wrote Warren J.
Stephen Tupper, one of the former partners, said: “”At the moment all that can be said about the decision is that the Hammonds litigation strategy is now just a crater. We have to wait and see what the judge decides to do with the view that he’s taken as regards the partnership deed.”
He added: “We’re now free to argue on estoppel. It’s difficult to see how Hammonds can claim victory. In addition the judge has waved us through to argue on a whole range of points. Nothing has yet been decided.”
The dispute began in 2007 and hit the High Court in last December. The decision has been hotly anticipated and will help clarify complex partnership rules (The Lawyer 1 Dec)
Addleshaw Goddard litigation partner Pietro Marino and Blackstone Chambers’ Charles Flint QC advised seven of the eight former partners, with Ian Croxford QC of Wilberforce Chambers representing former Hammonds partner David Jones.
Hammonds Leeds office chief Simon Miller advised his own firm, instructing Alan Steinfeld QC of XXIV Old Buildings.