Ince to seek legal advice over four-partner Hamburg defection to Clydes

Ince & Co is seeking legal advice after four Hamburg-based shipping partners quit for Clyde & Co earlier this week.

Legal Week revealed on Monday that the partners – Daniel Jones, Tim Schommer, Eckehard Volz and Volker Lucke – had resigned from Ince to launch Clydes’ second German office, adding to the base it opened in Duesseldorf in 2016.

Ince senior partner Jan Heuvels sent a memo to staff stating that the firm would be seeking German legal advice in relation to the exits, the recruitment agency Clydes used and the individual partners leaving. In the memo, he argued that the team hires had given rise to unfair competition issues.

Commenting on the potential issues at play,  Manteo Eisenlohr, an employment partner at German firm Altenburg, who has not seen any information relating to Ince’s complaint, suggested: “Under German competition law, if the agency doing the headhunting gave incorrect information to the people they were poaching with respect to their current employer, they could potentially argue that was unfair competition.”

Following the partner resignations, Ince confirmed that it would promote three Hamburg-based lawyers – Gotz Rahne, Christian Reinert and Martin Malinowski – to partner. Rahne will co-lead Ince’s English law offering in Hamburg, alongside energy and shipping partner Simon Spark, who is currently on secondment to Hamburg from London. Reinert will lead the firm’s energy & infrastructure team, while Malinowski will head the yachts team.

In recent months Clydes has also growth rapidly in the US, hiring a 10-strong team in Miami and a nine-lawyer team in Washington DC. These hires came after the addition of a 90-strong insurance and litigation team from collapsed US insurance firm Sedgwick, including 15 partners .

Ince declined to comment. Clydes was contacted for comment.