PracticeConsultingGroup A firms settle dispute

Group A firms settle dispute

Robson Rhodes and Grant Thornton agree to resolve law suit over staff defection as Robson withdraws High Court writ. Ben Griffiths reports.

An accountant who was at the centre of a protracted legal disputetaff defection as Robson withdraws High Court writ. between Group A firms Robson Rhodes and Grant Thornton over staff defection has been appointed to head up Grant Thornton’s fledgling Cambridge office.

Jeremy Francis, the former national head of tax at Robson Rhodes, was one of four Robsons partners subject to a High Court writ issued to stop them working for their previous clients for up to three years.

The writ also sought to prevent the four poaching any other Robsons employees for Grant Thornton.

Also sued were Simon Lowe, the partner who headed Robson’s Cambridge operations, corporate finance partner Keith Mitchell and audit partner John Corbishley. All four have now been cleared for their roles. The writ has since been withdrawn.

A joint statement from the two firms states: ‘We are pleased to announce that the dispute between Robson Rhodes and four of its former Cambridge office partners, who have now joined Grant Thornton, has been settled on amicable terms.’

Spokesmen from both firms refused to comment further.

Robsons insiders previously said the Cambridge office had attempted to secretly negotiate a merger with Grant Thornton for more than two years, because the four were unhappy about their increasingly ‘peripheral’ status within the national practice and exclusion from lucrative work offered to other practices.

The battle reached a climax last year when the rebel partners launched an abortive buyout bid when the reported merger talks collapsed. The row broke out over governance and increased capital contributions.

The new office will focus on corporate recovery, corporate finance, audit and tax.

Mitchell has been made corporate finance partner in the new office. Corbishley heads the business services department and the transaction support team in the East Midlands region, while Lowe will be an audit partner in the London and Cambridge offices.

A new team has since taken over Robson’s own Cambridge operation.

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