Chantrey Vellacott sues former partner

Montgomery, who had been with Chantrey Vellacott since July 1989, has tried to encourage the firm’s clients to join him at the new firm, according to a High Court writ.

Before leaving Chantrey Vellacott, he asked if he could continue to act for various clients, but at a lunch meeting partner Mike Gillett told him the firm would not consent to this, it is alleged.

Montgomery refused to give assurances that he would tell each of his former clients that he would have to refuse to act for them when he moved firms, the writ says.

Montgomery works primarily for commercial organisations, but also has particular experience of acting for firms of solicitors and charities.

Weeks after he left last November, the firm’s client Christopher Cozens said he had decided to instruct Kingston Smith as his accountants. He was followed by three other clients.

Chantrey Vellacott’s solicitors wrote to Kingston Smith, warning the firm it believed Montgomery had breached restrictions over clients, but Kingston Smith replied saying that restrictive covenants in his contract were not enforceable, the court will hear.

The solicitors wrote again, saying Montgomery had blatantly breached the covenants in acting for utility analysts Control Energy Costs, and asking the firm to confirm it would procure that he honoured his contractual obligations, which last for two years after his departure.

And after the solicitors wrote to Montgomery on 8 March, seeking an undertaking that he would not continue to breach his restrictions, Kingston Smith replied saying it had advised Montgomery not to give the undertakings, and claiming he was not in breach of contract, the writ claims.

Now Chantrey Vellacott is asking the High Court to order Montgomery not to solicit the custom of any of his former clients until November 2003, nor to deal with them, act for them or to encourage them to leave Chantrey Vellacott.

Both firms declined to comment.

The firm is also suing Montgomery, of Leith Road, Beare Road, Dorking, Surrey, for damages. The writ was issued by solicitors Rowe and Maw.

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