With news starting to trickle out in the legal press, Asserson is now able to place on record its role in a claim which Trevor Asserson, senior partner of Asserson Law Offices, has described as “the most shocking claim of misconduct by a law firm that I have come across in 30 years of practice.”
The case which is being heard in London’s commercial court alleges serious breaches of duty by solicitors CMS against its own client. At the heart of the case is the claim that CMS used inaccurate and confidential information belonging to its client against that client. CMS now denies that it even acted for its former client, notwithstanding documentary evidence strongly suggesting the contrary.
The claimant, Alexander Mayr, has also issued a complaint to the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) against, inter alia, CMS and Mr Cominos a former senior partner at CMS. The SRA, having spent more than a year investigating, has referred the matter to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal.
Details of the Case
Between 2010 and 2012 CMS acted for Mr Mayr and associated entities. Mr Mayr was a successful businessman and then an investment manager to a company called Spokane which held assets for the benefit of members of the Swarovski family.
In mid-2011 a potential c €1bn transaction conducted for Mr Mayr aborted. The CMS engagement letter required it to discount its legal fees by 50% if the deal aborted. This did not occur. It is alleged that at the same time Mr Ted Cominos, the former head of Private Equity at CMS, took steps to distance the firm from its own client, Mr Mayr, and to orchestrate a series of claims against him which Mr Mayr says was aimed at destroying his ability to function as a business owner and manager. CMS now denies that the firm acted for Mr Mayr and associated entities on the relevant transaction. Mr Cominos is alleged even to have sought to destroy internal paperwork which would suggest otherwise.
CMS appears at that time to have aligned itself to Spokane and thereby the Swarovski funds. CMS is accused of having proceeded to use inaccurate and confidential information belonging to Mr Mayr to persuade Spokane (i) to terminate its relationship with Mr Mayr and (ii) to commence legal actions against him in three different jurisdictions; processes which all commenced on the same day – referred to by Mr Cominos in a contemporaneous email as “D-Day”. CMS internal documents seen by Asserson seem to strongly support the allegation that it co-ordinated this litigation against its own former client. A former senior associate at CMS also confirms this allegation. CMS denies having done so.
Mr Mayr for whom Asserson is acting claims that CMS’s misconduct caused him very substantial losses, estimated to be in excess of £65 million, which includes losses related to a holding in a valuable pharmaceutical company (LMM).
CMS has sought to justify its conduct by asserting that it gave certain advice which Mr Mayr failed to follow. Contemporaneous documents belonging to the firm appear to contradict this. So too does a witness statement from John Faurescu, the senior associate at CMS who worked alongside Mr Cominos on relevant matters connected with Mr Mayr and who sought to distance himself from the actions of CMS.
- The Claimants in this case are: Alexander Mayr, Rouver Investments Limited and Life Science Partners Limited, represented by Asserson Law Offices.
- The Defendant in this case is: CMS Cameron McKenna LLP, represented by Simmons & Simmons.
- The claim is being heard in the Commercial Court of the Queen’s Bench Division.
- CMS is a multinational law firm headquartered in London. Following a merger completed in May 2017 the firm was renamed CMS Cameron McKenna Nabarro Olswang LLP, and trades under the name CMS.
- Asserson launched in 2005. Head-quartered in central London but with its largest office in Tel Aviv, the Firm supports clients around the world who are looking to do business under English law. The Firm is recognised as a leading litigation boutique.