Exclusive: Linklaters granted injunction against former CMO’s bid to ‘expose firm culture’

A High Court judge has granted Linklaters a temporary injunction against a former executive committee member, who wanted to publish documents that he claimed would expose “the ongoing struggle [the firm] has with women in the workplace”.

An injunction was granted by Mr Justice Warby until a return hearing next Monday over the publication of 11 documents that ex-global director of business development and marketing Frank Mellish had intended to send to “unidentified organisations”. The magic circle firm argues these documents should be considered confidential information.

A judgment handed down today shows that Mellish was informed in June 2018 that his contract would be terminated in six months’ time, including a “gratuitous” ex gratia payment which the firm was not obliged to pay.

The details of his termination remain undisclosed at this time.

According to the judgment, Linklaters senior partner Charlie Jacobs and managing partner Gideon Moore were then contacted by Mellish via email on 23 January.

Mellish is said to have “expressed dissatisfaction with the termination of his employment which, given his age, he suggested was effectively the end of his career” and intended to “share [his] impressions of the current culture at Linklaters”.

Mellish’s contract prohibited him from sharing information acquired in his work to a third-party, unless otherwise required to do so by law, regulation or a court.

His emails identified three instances, labelled “the NY settlement”, “the London settlement” and “the Munich incident”. Last year, a former Linklaters partner was sentenced to over three years in prison at a Munich court for sexually assaulting an intern. Mellish said the three events would “demonstrate the Linklaters culture”. The email was intended to allow the firm to prepare for questions from the media.

Linklaters applied for the injunction to protect the identities of individuals involved in these matters, though it did not seek to restrain Mellish from expressing his views over the magic circle firm’s culture in general terms.

Specifically, the injunction protects the identities of a female complainant in the “Munich incident”, as well as the identities of people who had complained about an employee’s behaviour (also protected) in relation to the “NY settlement”.

The application also sought to protect the identity of people about whom complaints had been made (another employee and former partner), as well as any internal communications the firm had planned from the press about these issues.

A spokesperson for the firm said: “We can confirm that the firm sought and has been granted an interim injunction in the terms set out in the judgement handed down by the court today. We cannot comment further.”

As yet, no proceedings have been brought against Mellish – who has been unrepresented throughout these hearings, though Linklaters has instructed One Brick Court’s Andrew Caldecott QC and Aidan Eardley.

The court documents show that Linklaters has made numerous attempts to contact Mellish to inform him of its injunction application, though attempts thus far have failed.

Mellish joined Linklaters from big four firm Deloitte’s Australian arm in April 2017, having spent two years at the accountancy firm.

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