Perpetual Sues Cameron Harrison Over Lost Clients

Perpetual Ltd., which managed A$26 billion ($26 billion) at the end of last year, sued Cameron Harrison Private Pty, accusing it of poaching clients after hiring away two senior managers.

John Clark, former senior manager of consultant investment services at Perpetual, and Paul Ashworth, senior manager-director of investment services, quit July 15, 2011, and moved to Cameron Harrison, a 15-month old investment management startup, according to a statement of claim filed last month in the Federal Court of Australia in Sydney.

Clark and Ashworth took client lists with confidential information belonging to Perpetual, according to the complaint. Cameron Harrison then solicited the customers, 48 of whom moved their accounts to the startup, the plaintiffs said.

“Ashworth and Clark were not authorized by Perpetual to use Perpetual’s client contact information,” the plaintiffs said in the court filing. At least four customers were contacted at private e-mail addresses they hadn’t disclosed to Cameron Harrison, according to the complaint.

Cameron Harrison hasn’t filed a statement of defense. No one at the firm was immediately available to comment, according to a receptionist. Ashworth didn’t respond to an e-mailed request for comment on the lawsuit from him or Clark.

The two companies may attempt to resolve the dispute in mediation should Perpetual gain access to documents it needs, the firm’s lawyer Yaseen Shariff said at a hearing in Sydney today. Federal Court Justice Peter Jacobson scheduled a preliminary hearing for June 27, if the matter doesn’t go to mediation.

Damage Recovery

Perpetual sought to recover damages for loss of income, including future income from the lost clients, as well as loss of profit, goodwill and market share. The company didn’t specify the amount of damages it was asking for.

Perpetual also sought an order to stop Cameron Harrison from advertising itself as having been in business for more than 10 years, responsible for the management of various funds for more than 10 years and employed or engaged in the industry since 2000. Perpetual claims those representations are misleading.

Cameron Harrison advertises itself on its web site as a company with some 60 years of accumulated experience advising, assisting and managing the wealth of families and institutions.

The firm received an Australian Financial Services License on Jan. 9, 2012, according to the statement of claim.

The case is Perpetual Ltd. v Cameron Harrison Private Pty. NSD691/2013. Federal Court of Australia (Sydney).

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