Former account handlers accused of taking Riverbourne business to rival broker

Riverbourne Group is suing rival firm Square Mile Broking and two former Riverbourne staff for joining the broker.

According to a writ issued at the High Court last month, Surrey-based Riverbourne wants more than £400,000 from Square Mile Broking.

Riverbourne claims that former employees Jeanne Claremont and James Coyne broke their restrictive covenants by taking Riverbourne clients with them when they joined Square Mile, which has offices in the Lloyd’s building in London.

Problems began last June when account handler Claremont resigned from Riverbourne, claiming constructive dismissal. Around this time, several Riverbourne clients transferred their business to Square Mile Broking, the court documents say.

Coyne and Claremont had access to Riverbourne’s client databases and customer information, the writ says.

Riverbourne also contends that Claremont had been asked to buy legal expenses cover on behalf of the firm to pay for the costs of any breaches in restrictive covenants by staff, but she had failed to do so. This then left Riverbourne uninsured for breaches of covenant when she left, according to the writ.

Coyne is accused of meeting Square Mile director David Garrard in a pub shortly before he was dismissed by Riverbourne last August, following disciplinary hearings on the loss of key client accounts to Square Mile.

Riverbourne, which operates from offices in Caterham and Leeds, also infers Coyne’s breach of covenant by claiming he used his personal mobile phone and email account extensively to carry out Riverbourne business between December 2009 and his dismissal.

Riverbourne is seeking an injunction against Square Mile to hand over any Riverbourne documents it potentially owns.

The injunction would also prevent Claremont and Coyne from carrying out any broking business similar to Riverbourne’s until 16 June.

Claremont and Coyne worked together at Riverbourne as account handler and account manager of around 25 accounts.

Square Mile was set up in 2007 by former Riverbourne staff Garrard and Dominic D’Inverno.

Lawyers for Riverbourne declined to make any comment on the case. Square Mile and Riverbourne also declined to comment.

Pass notes: Riverbourne

Hasn't Riverbourne Group been in the news before?
Directors Nicholas Jamieson and Daniel Lane quit for Northern Alliance Insurance Brokers, which they set up in 2008.

What happened?
Riverbourne boss Nick Plowman said he bought out the pair's 20% Riverbourne stake to allow them to leave.