Allen & Overy managing partner Grant Fuzi has told Lawyers Weekly that the reporting of his leaving Clayton Utz and subsequent legal wrangling made "a mountain out of a molehill".
Fuzi's comments come in the wake of a report in the Australian Financial Review this morning (5 November) that he has settled a legal dispute with Clayton Utz over the nature of his departure from the firm and his subsequent appointment as the managing partner of the Sydney office of Allen & Overy.
Fuzi said the matter was settled "some time ago", but would not confirm a date with Lawyers Weekly.
Fuzi read a statement from Clayton Utz that acknowledged he had made a payment to the firm of $700,000 as a gesture of good faith, and that the payment by him did not constitute an admission of liability or wrongdoing.
On leaving Clayton Utz in 2009, Fuzi was given a $700,000 "retirement payment" on the condition that he would not join a rival firm.
Fuzi, who was the head of the banking and finance group at Clayton Utz, was one of 14 partners with the firm to join Allen & Overy. Other defectors included Michael Reede, the head of the corporate group, David Wilkie, the real estate practice leader and Geoff Simpson, the head of the firm's Perth office.
In April this year, Clayton Utz retained Tom Bathurst QC and initiated action against Fuzi, alleging that he had breached his fiduciary duty to his former firm.
"I have the upmost respect for Clayton Utz as a firm and for chief executive partner Darryl McDonough," Fuzi said.
Fuzi offered "no comment" when asked about his relationship and views on David Fagan, the chief executive of Clayton Utz at the time of his departure from the firm.
Clayton Utz offered no comment when contacted by Lawyers Weekly.