Defending a claim tactically

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Gannons took a tactical approach to defending a claim raised by a company against a former employee.

Our client resigned from his employer, a financial services company. The company then sued him for not repaying a loan that the company had made to him several years previously. Our client had numerous issues to raise in his defence.

The steps taken in defending the claim

We were then instructed by our client, and began identifying and addressing the key issues in dispute. This involved calculating the revenue that our client had generated for the employer, which refuted the employer’s allegations that the loan was outstanding. Then we queried the employer and asked them to disclose specific documents relevant to our client’s case.

Ultimately we resolved the dispute in our client’s favour, without the use of the courts. This saved our client costs. We also discovered that the ex-employer had brought the claim with the ulterior motive of taking up our client’s time to prevent him succeeding in his new role.

Our tactical focus for defending the claim

After reviewing the claim and the history of the issue with our client, we focused on one issue and built our strategy around it. Our defence was that the loan could be deemed to have been repaid after our client achieved a certain volume of business for his former employer, even if the claim was correct in principle. Our client assured us he had exceeded that target.

Litigating only on the issues in dispute

We focused exclusively on this point. We used the court’s rules to request specific information on the business he had achieved against this target. At first, his ex-employer tired to ignore this question, and later provided irrelevant answers.

Reducing litigation costs prior to trial

We persisted. Just before a court hearing, which would have ordered the employer to answer our questions, his ex-employer dropped the claim.

Resolving a dispute without the court’s input

For us, this is a typical approach. We prefer not to spend time and money dealing with every part of the claim, and every possible defence. We like to focus on one killer point, which forces the claimant to drop the claim at minimal cost for our clients.

Alex Kleanthous is the partner running the dispute resolution team. Alex has a breadth of experience handling litigation between employer and employee. If the employee holds shares, then the issues are intricate. We do have the expertise to advise on those issues.

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