12 February 2019

Court extends Linklaters gag

Director threatening to speak out about 'ongoing struggle' with women in the magic circle was absent from court as gag order extended.

Linklaters won an extension to a court order barring Frank Mellish, a former director, from revealing details about incidents involving female staff, after the High Court heard the subject of the injunction does not contest the decision.

Sharing impressions

Mr Mellish, an Australian national understood to be currently in France, did not attend the hearing and the court heard he had instructed Australian lawyers, but ‘does not contest and does not concede’ the injunction. Mr Justice Warby ruled that his order against Mr Mellish, former director of business development, would run to 4pm on 22 February. He was agreeing to an application to extend an injunction made on 31 January, as set out in an open judgment on 5 February. Justice Warby said 'the Court is always wary of granting injunctions against absent parties. That includes, in particular, injunctions which affect free speech.' However he stated he was satisfied all practicable steps had been taken to notify Mr Mellish. The magic circle firm sought the injunction after Mellish, who left the firm in January after being given six months’ notice, emailed senior partners announcing that he intended to ’share my impressions of the current culture at Linklaters’, in particular ’the ongoing struggle Linklaters has with women in the workplace’.

‘culture’ talk

The firm secured an order barring Mr Mellish from giving interviews. Justice Warby ruled 'it is accepted by the claimants that there is, in general terms, a legitimate public interest in the due performance by large firms such as Linklaters of their social and moral duties towards their staff. But the existence of such an interest cannot justify indiscriminate disclosure of otherwise sensitive confidential information which others have a legitimate interest in keeping confidential.’ He concluded, 'a general desire to talk publicly about the ‘culture’ of a large firm is not enough to justify the disclosure of such details.' A Linklaters spokesperson stated, ‘we can confirm that the firm sought and has been granted an interim injunction in the terms set out in the judgment handed down by the court today. We cannot comment further.'