Jardine Lloyd Sues Rival Howden Over Singapore Mass Resignation

Jardine Lloyd Thompson Group Plc sued Howden Insurance Brokers in a bid to thwart plans by the rival to poach 17 of its Singapore staff.

The broking arm of Hyperion Insurance Group, headhunter Huntington Search Partners Pte, JLT Singapore Managing Director Goh Chye Huat and three other executives coordinated the raid in April and May, JLT’s Singapore unit said in a lawsuit. A closed Singapore High Court hearing is scheduled for Friday.

Howden, the headhunter and the executives deny wrongdoing and said the JLT employees weren’t induced to breach their obligations, according to court papers. JLT, the U.K.’s largest publicly traded insurance broker, was sued in London in April by another competitor after hiring 31 of its employees, and “cannot genuinely consider en masse resignations to be unlawful,” Howden said in its court filing.

“Howden’s position is that it has done nothing wrong,” said the company’s lawyer Chew Kei-Jin.

JLT Singapore has no legal basis in its attempt to bar the executives’ employment with Howden, said Choo Zheng Xi, a lawyer advising Goh and another employee.

“We’re an independent search firm doing our job and I’ve never heard of a case like that globally,” said Gerard Pennefather, a partner at Huntington.

JLT spokeswoman Phillippa-Jane Vermoter declined to comment.

JLT claims the four executives breached their duties and is trying to restrain them from using any confidential JLT information acquired. It wants to bar Howden from hiring the employees until late October 2016. JLT failed to retain some of the employees including Goh with pay enhancements and other perks, according to court papers.

The case is Jardine Lloyd Thompson Pte v Howden Insurance Brokers (S) Pte, S595/2015. Singapore High Court.

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