Pinsent Masons is to face a claim from a Spanish firm which alleges that it breached agreements by hiring a team of partners and associates following unsuccessful merger talks.
The High Court claim, by Madrid firm Ramón & Cajal, alleges that the international firm hired five partners and several associates from the firm despite signing a memorandum of understanding which included a no-hiring and non-solicitation provision.
Pinsents partners Richard Foley, Clive Seddon and Diego Lozano, formerly a Ramon board member and now head of Pinsents’ Madrid office, are also named in the claim.
The hires occurred between January and May this year, shortly before Pinsent Masons announced it was setting up a Madrid office. However, the claim alleges that Pinsents and Ramon had been engaged in merger talks during 2016 culminating in an offer by Pinsents. Ramon rejected the offer but asked Pinsents if it would consider an alliance instead.
Ramon said it is entitled to claim lost profits stemming from the departures, as well as any profits made by the defendants as a result of their breach of confidence.
The Gazette understands that Pinsents plans to file its response next week, claiming that the Ramon partners approached Pinsents in the wake of the failed merger.
A spokesperson for Pinsents said the firm does not believe the case has merit. They added: ‘As we build our business, we take great care to meet the responsibilities we agree to as part of our discussions with individuals and firms alike. We believe we have always met our responsibilities in relation to Ramón & Cajal and regret they have chosen to take this action. Given formal proceedings are underway it would not be appropriate for us to make further comment.’