Quinn Emanuel faces potential SRA investigation after dismissing City partner for inappropriate behaviour









Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan has referred itself to the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) in response to allegations of inappropriate behaviour by now-dismissed City litigation partner Mark Hastings.

The firm said earlier today that it had asked Hastings (pictured) to leave with immediate effect on Tuesday this week (8 May), following an investigation into Hastings’ behaviour.

Allegations against Hastings were made in February by two members of staff, with the firm immediately suspending him and commissioning an investigation by Mishcon de Reya partner and business crime head Alison Levitt QC. He was dismissed without compensation as a result of her findings, which were given to the firm in late April.

The firm said in a statement: “We can confirm that Mr Hastings was expelled from the firm with immediate effect and without compensation on 8 May 2018.

“Quinn Emanuel takes allegations of the nature made against Mr Hastings extremely seriously.  We will not tolerate abusive behaviour from anyone within the firm. Where allegations of inappropriate behaviour are brought to our attention, they will be investigated and appropriate action will be taken, without exception.

“We will not comment further at this stage out of respect for the complainants’ rights to privacy but we would say that we have not sought, nor will we seek, any form of non-disclosure agreement from the complainants in relation to the allegations that they have made.”

As a result of Quinn’s decision to refer itself to the SRA, the regulator will now gather evidence before making a decision whether or not to formally investigate the firm.

A spokesperson for the SRA said: “We have received a report and will gather all relevant evidence before deciding on any appropriate action.”

Hastings joined Quinn after resigning from Addleshaws in late 2016, having previously worked at legacy Herbert Smith. As head of civil fraud at the national firm he was well known for his work acting for oligarch Boris Berezovsky on a series of cases, including a dispute with Chelsea Football Club owner Roman Abramovich. He also acted on action against Russian metal magnate Vasily Anisimov and investment company Salford Capital Partners.

In a 2012 interview with Legal Week, he described the Berezovsky litigation as his most memorable case and proudest professional moment.

Hastings joins a growing list of partners to have left law firms as a result of inappropriate behaviour.

In March, Latham & Watkins chair and managing partner Bill Voge resigned from the firm after admitting to ”communications of a sexual nature” with a woman he met through a Christian support group of which he was a member.

This followed a Baker McKenzie partner leaving the firm in February in response to an alleged incident several years earlier, with the firm facing SRA scrutiny in response to its handling of the alleged incident, which saw the lawyer receive a payout from the firm and enter into a non-disclosure agreement.

Dentons also suspended a male partner earlier this year in response to allegations of inappropriate behaviour, going on to dismiss him in February.

Last year, Legal Week research found that nearly two thirds of female lawyers have experienced some form of sexual harassment while working at a law firm, with more than half experiencing it on more than one occasion. A number of female lawyers also spoke anonymously to Legal Week about their experiences of sexual harassment in the profession, following the research.

Hastings has been contacted for comment.