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Brewin v Charles Stanley: A leading employment lawyer's verdict
by Elaine Aarons on May 09, 2014 at 10:27
Wealth Manager has asked one of Britain’s leading employment lawyers to review a case that has potentially profound ramifications for the UK wealth management industry.
We revealed in April that Brewin Dolphin is suing Charles Stanley and six former Brewin staff who quit to join its rival last year.
The High Court writ accused the six, who previously worked at Brewin’s Leicester office, of breaching their contracts and fiduciary responsibilities, and conspiring with Charles Stanley to cause losses to Brewin’s business by ‘unlawful means’. Charles Stanley denies the claims.
It is a case that the whole industry is watching with interest because it could set precedents on how wealth management companies go about hiring in teams.
Elaine Aarons (pictured), a partner at Withers, has reviewed both the writ and the defence. Here she provides her independent opinion on the merits, tactics and likely outcome of the case.
'Long gone are the days when people worked for the same employer for their entire career. However, not surprisingly, individuals who work together successfully often form strong bonds and can end up working together for decades – but not always for the same employer.
So it was to be expected that the team recruited by Brewin Dolphin between 2000 and 2005 would, when the time came to move on, be likely to move together. Some had worked together for almost 25 years.
In 2012 they did move as a team, to competitor Charles Stanley. Brewin promptly brought a damages claim in the High Court against the team and Charles Stanley – basically for the fact they had the audacity to move.
The irony is that when three of the team joined Brewin from Quilter in 2005, they claim, Brewin had asked them to resign in exactly the same way.
Team moves have become difficult to pull off in recent years, due to the way the law has developed, and any litigation almost always starts with an application for an emergency injunction to stop the employees making the move. But by the time the claim was presented, it looks like it was too late for Brewin to make such an application. So the claim is for damages only.
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