Essex Court Chamber’s Andrew Hochhauser QC and David Craig, instructed as counsel by Mark Levine and Daniel Naftalin,of Mishcon de Reya, representing 21 former Dresdner Kleinwort bankers, were celebrating a significant victory after the Court of Appeal granted permission to challenge Commerzbank in a dispute over bonuses on Tuesday (8 March 2011).
The case, which is being closely watched by the Banking sector, is the largest legal dispute seen over bankers’ bonuses in the wake of the financial crisis two years ago.
First filed with the High Court in September 2009, the case has seen 104 bankers bring claims against Commerzbank, after it merged with Dresdner Bank in May 2009. Before the takeover, the bankers were told that a €400m (£343m) pot had been put aside to cover bonuses. Post-merger this was rescinded via an email saying that bonuses would be reduced. Commerzbank’s assertion was that the decision over bonuses was discretionary.
The Court of Appeal rejected Commerzbank’s claim there should be summary judgment without witness testimony, leaving the dispute on course for the High Court.