A dispute between law firm Clayton Utz and former partner Grant Fuzi, who defected to Allen & Overy in February 2010, was settled after Fuzi returned his retirement handout as a goodwill gesture.
Fuzi was one of 14 Clayton Utz partners to join firm, which had newly arrived in Australia at the time.
The Lawyer, a UK publication, reveals that following the move, Clayton Utz pursued a claim against Fuzi and hired a QC to assist in the dispute resolution. The Australian firm claimed the former partner broke an agreement with it.
The claim revolved around A$700,000 retirement payment that The Lawyer reports was made to Fuzi on the condition that he would not join another law firm.
Fuzi left Clayton Utz in December 2009 and worked in the Sydney office of Allen & Overy in Goldfields House as he waited for the other defecting partners to arrive.
In a statement, Clayton Utz chief executive Darryl McDonough said: “There are no matters outstanding between Clayton Utz and its former partners. Grant Fuzi returned a retirement payment which had been made to him when he left in 2009. That payment was made by Mr Fuzi and accepted by us as a gesture of goodwill.
“Clayton Utz acknowledged that the repayment by Mr Fuzi did not constitute an admission by him of liability or of any wrong-doing. Clayton Utz regrets that what was agreed to be a confidential settlement between Clayton Utz and a former partner has been made public.”
The defection of the 14 partners caused much confusion and shock for Clayton Utz, at the time. The details of how the recruitment of the 14 partners came about remained a mystery, at least to Clayton Utz, the firm's managing partner David Fagan told The New Lawyer at the time.
He said that he had not spoken to any of the partners, and was "not really certain how it transpired".
"We were told by Allen & Overy that it had been planned for some time. So one would have thought they were planning it last year. That is only a guess," he said.
But the remaining 201 partners at Clayton Utz have been galvanised into action by the news, said Fagan.
The New Lawyer has requested comment from Grant Fuzi.
See the related story, 'Door is still swinging at Clayton Utz', here.