Sun 22 September 2019

Gagging order granted by High Court relates to alleged incidents involving women at the company in London, Munich and New York.

The ‘magic circle’ law firm Linklaters has been granted a temporary injunction preventing a former executive from revealing details of alleged ‘struggles’ facing women at the company.

The UK injunction, granted by a High Court judge earlier this week, was issued on the same day that a federal court in Germany dismissed an appeal by a former Linklaters partner against a three-year sentence for sexually assaulting a female intern in 2014.

Thomas Elser, formerly a partner at Linklaters’ Munich office, has been told his jail term will be upheld. Elser sexually assaulted the student intern at the firm’s Oktoberfest party in 2014.

Another partner at Linklaters, Laurenz Schmitt, reported Elser to the firm but was also charged with physically assaulting Elser at the same event. Both partners left Linklaters shortly after the incident.

At a High Court hearing in London on February 5, Mr Justice Warby issued a temporary injunction preventing Frank Mellish, former director of business development and marketing at offshoot Linklaters Business Services (LBS), from revealing specific details of an alleged wider culture at the Linklaters group.

Mellish’s contract with LBS was terminated in January, after which he threatened to go public with his thoughts on the corporation’s culture.

In particular, Mellish’s legal submission refers to “the ongoing struggle Linklaters has with women in the workplace”.

Mr Justice Warby’s temporary order prevents Mellish from revealing details of three incidents in particular. These are referred to in the injunction order as “the Munich incident”, “the NY settlement” and “the London settlement”.

Linklaters has been keen to protect the identities of the women allegedly involved in the incidents – including the victim of Elser’s assault: a legal requirement reinforced by Mr Justice Warby’s injunction order.

The law firm additionally argues that the terms of Mellish’s contract restrict publication of confidential information relating to the company, its staff and clients.

A spokesman for Linklaters 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.”

A further injunction hearing is scheduled for 11 February.

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