Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) has filed a lawsuit at the Sydney courts against eight Australian partners who exited the firm for White & Case last year.
As first reported in Australian Financial Review, 167 HSF partners are suing eight of the 10 partners who launched offices in Melbourne and Sydney for White & Case.
The mass exodus last September dented HSF’s project finance team, with lawyers also moving over to the US firm in Hong Kong and Singapore. The group are understood to have taken around £20m in combined revenue to White & Case.
It is also understood that HSF is mooting changes to its leaver provisions in the country on the back of the exits, meaning partners could be prevented from working at their new firm until the end of 2017.
The defendants are Melbourne partners Andrew Clark, Brendan Quinn, Alan Rosengarten, Josh Sgro, Tim Power, Jared Muller and Joanne Draper and Sydney partner Joel Rennie.
The two Asia partners who left, Fergus Smith and Matthew Osbourne, are not named in the legal challenge.
The case will continue on 17 February when a judge will be assigned and a timetable set. The first hearing is scheduled for 27 February before Supreme Court of New South Wales justice Robert McDougall.
HSF declined to comment.