LAWFUEL – The Legal Newswire – Freshfields’ concocted a complex reform of its pension system as part of a wider secret plan to force out older employees, it was alleged today.
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer claims it reformed its pension scheme because the existing system – where current partners pay for retired partners’ pensions – was unsustainable and unfair.
However, the true reason for the pensions re-shuffle was to alter the “size and shape” of the partnership by weeding out older partners, an Employment Tribunal was told today.
The accusation, which Freshfields rejects, was made during the third morning of the hearing for a case in which Peter Bloxham, a former partner, is suing the firm for age discrimination.
In response to the allegations Dinah Rose, QC for Freshfields, suggested that Mr Bloxham was “paranoid” for believing what was nothing more than a “conspiracy theory”.
Freshfields, which denies age-discrimination, insists that last year’s reforms, which form the basis of Mr Bloxham’s claim, were a necessary compromise to fix an “extraordinarily difficult issue”.
Ms Rose pointed out yesterday that several partners in a similar position to Mr Bloxham, voted in favour of the reforms.
They included Guy Morton, the firm’s joint senior partner, who said in his witness statement that he was “nearly the same age as Peter Bloxham” but had “given up my old [pension] rights without compunction, in light of the needs of the firm”.