LONDON (Within The Law) - The departure of key lawyers can often cause financial distress. In the case of one firm, though, it appears to have been fatal. Now it’s the former owner is looking for redress.
In an action to the High Court, Greg Rollingson claims the departure of four former lawyers caused the failure of his firm. The four lawyers, James Hollingsworth, Steven Gasser, Joanne Wheeler, and Maya Bhatiani, all deny the allegations.
Hollingsworth has been head of property at Rollingstons until he left in 2016 to Laurus with the other three joining him in early 2017. The move effectively took Rollingston’s property and family departments with them leading to the firm’s eventual failure.
Rollingstons slipped into administration in 2018 and was bought by Taylor Rose TTKW. Mr Rollingson continues to work there as a consultant.
Mr Rollingson alleges that the group “committed various wrongs”. These include a breach of contract by Mr Hollingsworth and Mr Gasser, as well as breaches of fiduciary duty, and misuse of confidential information.
He has also claimed for economic torts saying they procured each other and encouraged others to leave, ‘and otherwise acting so as to damage the firm’.
Because of their actions, he says, his firm suffered substantial losses from which it was unable to recover. Had they not acted in that way, he says they would have realised ‘substantial profits’.
In the financial year ending 31 March 2017, he says Rollingson’s turnover was £3.1m, of which £1.2m and £514,000 came from the property and family departments respectively.
However, in the following year, the firm’s turnover fell to £2.9m, with the property department generating £574,000 and the family department £248,000.
He is seeking this £1.2 in foregone profits and, further and alternatively, an account of profits made by Mr Hollingsworth and Mr Gasser as directors of Laurus.
In response the defendants claim the firm was badly run, losing money and engaging in forced redundancies. They say they only acted after they left the firm and that their departure was unrelated to the firm’s entry into administration.
They applied to have certain parts of the application struck out. In his ruling, Master Dagnal rejected the application in all but one of the paragraphs but required them to be altered.
(Written by Tom Cropper, Edited by Klaudia Fior)