Yesterday saw the first day of the trial where Arthur J Gallagher accuses Ardonagh of tactically poaching four employees

Arthur J Gallagher UK (AJG) has accused Ardonagh chief executive David Ross of having a “vindictive desire for revenge” against his former employer during its opening statement of the current legal battle playing out between the two companies.

AJG accuses Ardonagh of unlawfully poaching four members of the Alesco senior team in a planned “conspiracy,” something Ardonagh disputes.

The Ardonagh Group chief executive was in attendance as he heard AJG’s lawyer, Gavin Mansfield QC accuse him of seeking revenge by recruiting the four Alesco employees, Nawat Hasan, Peter Burton, Gerard Maginn and James Brewin from AJG’s energy and construction departments into the Ardonagh-owned Bishopsgate Insurance Brokers Ltd and Price Forbes and Partners Ltd.

David ross

Ardonagh Group chief executive David Ross has been accused of having a “vindictive desire for revenge” against former employee Arthur J Gallagher

The US-based broker is seeking claims relating to the loss of profit as a result of the four departures, the retention fees the company felt it had to pay other current employees to persuade them to stay, as it felt the departures “destabilised” the workforce; and finally for the cost of recruiting replacements for the four departures.

AJG says the cost of the consequent retention fees presents the largest claim as it includes the fee and salary paid to then group chief executive of Alesco, Simon Matson, which AJG insisted on keeping confidential from the public.

This is not the first time Ross has been involved in a legal dispute with his former employer, when they settled a case in 2015 over apparent breaches of contract during his departure from AJG.


AJG also accuses Ardonagh of targeting all four men at the same time “as a team,” something Ardonagh lawyer, David Craig QC, says is “not unlawful.”

Craig outlined in his opening statement that the four employees in question left because they were “genuinely unhappy” under the employment of the claimant.

Craig gave five points as to why the claims of a targeted conspiracy were false:

  • · Companies are entitled to recruit from a rival
  • · Employees are entitled to leave an employer for a rival with good reason
  • · Employers are entitled to try to retain employees with a counter offer
  • · All parties understand it is a very competitive market for talent
  • · The claims put forward by the claimant are fundamentally flawed

Another accusation put forward by Mr Mansfield was that after Hasan and the other three employees moved, Hasan put together a business plan for Bishopsgate which held an uncanny resemblance to that submitted by AJG previously.

Mansfield stated that Hasan had simply “copied the claimant’s business plan word for word, but just changed the name from Arthur J Gallagher to Bishopsgate.

He then stated that Hasan had “not done a very good job” of copying as he had left a reference to his previous employer further into the new business plan.

Finally, the claimant lawyer brought attention to a £625,000 loan David Ross had given to Burton before he left his employer for the new business, and that the loan was given under “highly preferential terms” as there was no fine or punishment for late or non-payment.

Mansfield questioned why Ross is in the business of giving an employee of a rival company a loan seeing as he is not himself a banker.

The trial continues

Opening statements for the defence is set to conclude this morning, with evidence set to begin afterwards with the first witness.

The trial is being conducted at the Royal Courts of Justice in London and is expected to last up to two weeks with the conclusion on 29 March 2019.