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City firms reach ‘poaching’ resolution

City firms reach ‘poaching’ resolution

A hearing began last month to determine damages after BGC Partners lost its appeal against an unlawful conspiracy decision relating to its recruitment of brokers from rivals Tullett Prebon.

Tullett’s “crown jewels” had been lost after BGC induced gross breaches of contract, Mr Justice Jack was told.

In his ruling on liability, the judge said that Tullett’s claims against BGC, its president Shaun Lynn and Tullett’s former global chief operating officer Anthony Verrier for conspiracy and inducing breach of contract succeeded.

Tullett’s counsel Daniel Oudkerk told the judge that the parties had reached an agreement and that the settlement deal was confidential.

The judge said that the case could have been “very very unpleasant” but for the barristers involved who, while not failing to “swing punches” at each other when appropriate, conducted the matter as it should be – with friendship where possible.

BGC’s counsel, Andrew Hochhauser QC, responded by quoting from Hamlet Act 1 Scene 1: “For this relief much thanks.”

Sarah Jackson, Senior Solicitor in IBB’s Commercial Dispute Resolution team, comments: “A confidential settlement has protected the parties in this action from further litigation and potential public censure. If nothing else, the settlement will enable the parties to get on with their business without the distraction of litigation, which despite the judgment on liability in March 2010 looked likely to run and run.

“The parties should be congratulated on being able to put their bitter differences aside in order to settle this protracted dispute confidentially rather than further exposure in the public arena. It would have been interesting to see how the Courts would have dealt with the quantum aspect of this case and certainly would have provided helpful guidance to practitioners.

“That said, the initial judgment gave a useful indication on how the Court will deal with “missing” evidence – a number of the key employee’s blackberrys and mobile phones had disappeared making it almost impossible to recover key text message evidence – the judge’s comments may give pause for thought to parties in other actions who are tempted to interfere with electronic evidence.

“Furthermore, the judgment means that in future a poacher or tempted member of staff may give their binding contractual obligations some thought before they jump ship and appreciate that there may be legal consequences and risks to their actions.”

Our Employment team provides advice on the employment aspects of all major business decisions. For advice, contact a member of the team, call us on 08456 381 381 or email enquiries@ibblaw.co.uk.