Consultant Deloitte & Touche has announced the formation of its new global custody consulting team, following the January 10 lapse of a court injunction placed on the group by the Victorian Supreme Court in Melbourne, Australia.
The injunction had prevented Deloittes from approaching former clients of Towers Perrin after the defection of some of the Towers custody consulting team, including former head of the Towers custody practice David Taplin, to Deloittes in September 1999.
The move comes despite the prospect of a full trial to rule on a damages claim brought by Towers against Deloitte & Touche, alleging loss of intellectual capital and abuse of confidential advice, which is scheduled to be heard by the Victorian Supreme Court in March.
The consultant team switch came after an announcement by Towers that its global custody practice was to be run on a regional basis.
At a preliminary hearing of the case in November, the judge, Mr Justice Mandie, ruled that Deloitte & Touche could “improperly” gain a “springboard advantage” if the former Tower’s team was allowed to immediately solicit former clients.
David Taplin, now head of the global custody team at Deloittes, believes the case may not go that far: “At this stage it’s a bit of a phantom war, we’re not sure if the case will go to court and if it does we are pretty confident that there will be no finding against us.”
Taplin believes the passing of the injunction vindicates Deloittes. “Deloitte & Touche are now allowed to work for any organisation anywhere in the world. I think the lack of further action by Towers Perrin demonstrates they don’t have a case against us. We feel confident to move on. We’re getting on with business and I suspect if they did the same thing we would both be winners out of this process.”
A spokesperson for Towers Perrin says the firm is proceeding with its legal case.
The new Deloitte custody consulting team group will operate under a global structure with local delivery from teams based in London, New York and Melbourne.
Margaret Bishop will lead the European team from London, reporting to Calum Thomson, a partner in Deloitte’s Global Financial Services Industry practice.
Taplin adds: “Organisations around the world must adopt global best practice as country borders disappear, market barriers diminish and new competitors emerge.” Hugh Wheelan