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Dechert partner refused stay in case against former client accused of spying on him

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Latest development in tangled legal battle between Neil Gerrard and mining firm he used to represent

The High Court has dealt a setback to a Dechert partner’s hopes of simplifying a tangled legal battle involving a disgruntled former client and spicy corporate espionage allegations.

Neil Gerrard had applied to put his £100,000 privacy case against a former client and a firm of corporate investigators on hold until the client’s case against him is resolved.

But the Master of the Queen’s Bench Division found against Gerrard on Tuesday, refusing to grant a stay.

Gerrard is suing mining company ENRC and corporate investigators Diligence International, holding them responsible for an alleged James Bond-style spying operation against him.

ENRC, which Gerrard used to represent before a spectacular falling-out, is alleged to have engaged the investigators to gather evidence for its own lawsuit against Gerrard, Dechert and the Serious Fraud Office (are you keeping up at the back?).

The SFO has been investigating ENRC for years, although to date no charges have been brought. Gerrard used to represent ENRC in the matter, having brought the business with him when he switched from DLA Piper to Dechert in 2011.

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The company alleges that Gerrard secretly passed information to the SFO so that it would expand the scope of the investigation into his client and allow him to rake in more fees.

Dechert billed ENRC £16.3 million for its services between April 2011 and April 2013. The mining firm’s general counsel has alleged before the Court of Appeal that Gerrard had said that he was “in rape mode” in terms of the fees he was charging.

Gerrard reportedly asked the High Court to press pause on his spying suit pending the resolution of ENRC’s case against him. But Master Lisa Ann Sullivan turned him down, saying that “the overlap that is likely in the evidence is not sufficient to require a stay in this case”, according to Law360.

Gerrard has been approached for comment.

ENRC’s case against Dechert, Gerrard and the Serious Fraud Office is listed for June 2021. They all deny any wrongdoing, as does ENRC.

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