A partner at Big Four accountancy firm Deloitte who was sacked for alleged bullying and large expenses claims has been ordered to pay £125,000 in legal costs for a one-day trial, after the first stage of his challenge to dismissal failed.
David Joseph, a forensic services partner at Deloitte’s Zurich office, was issued with a notice of retirement last year following an investigation into his conduct. It was widely reported that the firm found Joseph to be ‘bullying’ and ‘manipulative’, and that he created a ‘toxic working environment’. The firm also criticised Joseph’s use of expenses.
Joseph went to the High Court to force Deloitte to convene a meeting of its 1,700 equity partners to review his dismissal. His claim was rejected, with the judge ruling that the request for a full partner meeting fell outside the time permitted. Joseph seeks to appeal the decision.
In Joseph v Deloitte, Mrs Justice Whipple ordered that Joseph provide £125,000 to Deloitte by way of interim payment. The Big Four firm has racked up a total of £300,724 in legal costs, which Whipple J called ‘rather excessive’. Paul Goulding QC and George Molyneaux from Blackstone Chambers, instructed by Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, are representing the firm.
Meanwhile, Joseph has spent £138,225 on legal fees so far, according to the judgment. He is represented by Jonathan Cohen QC and Alexander Robson from Littleton Chambers, instructed by Farrer & Co.
Whipple J said: ‘This was a one-day trial of narrow compass with a relatively small number of relevant documents and witness statements. I recognise that a great deal of work was done under time pressure to get ready for trial, but even so, the defendant’s schedule of costs, at over £300,000, seems rather excessive… I hope the parties will be able to agree costs without needing to incur further costs in fighting about costs.'
Under the notice of retirement Joseph’s partnership will terminate on 31 January.