Watson Farley & Williams has settled out of court with ex-head of real estate Michael Prevezer, after he brought an age discrimination claim of £300k against the firm.

In August 2018, Prevezer filed a claim against WFW alleging that the firm had wrongly removed him from his role as global head of the firm's real estate group. Prevezer alleged that he'd noticed older partners were “gradually and reluctantly manoeuvred” into becoming consultants, and then compelled to take premature retirement.

Prevezer became global head of real estate in 2006, and under his leadership turnover increased in ten years from £800,000 to around £17m. But by 2014, aged 59, he claimed that it became apparent that he had become "the focus of the inappropriate manoeuvring and age discrimination". He highlighted one example when he was overlooked for a position on the firm's managing committee, with three much younger "and less experienced" partners grabbing spots.  

Prevezer alleged that in 2016 the firm prevented him from properly running the real estate practice by forbidding him from travelling abroad without the managing partners' consent. After the stipulation was imposed, Prevezer went for a lunch with managing partner Lothar Wegener where a conversation ensued about Prevezer stepping down from the partnership to become a consultant. Which may have tainted the taste of the petit fours. Prevezer signed a consultancy agreement in March that year.   

In February 2018, Wegener informed Prevezer that the firm intended to replace him as global head of real estate. Following this, the firm told Prevezer that he "may wish to terminate rather than continue" his consultancy arrangement. Prevezer rejected this strongly-hinted offer. Instead, he commenced a claim for reputational damage and also alleged that the firm had not honoured the consultancy agreement regarding fees owed to him. 

The claim was set to be heard in the High Court later this year, but has now been settled out of court. So fuller details of the cosy chats between Wegener and Prevezer will remain unknown. 


An, ahem, "experienced" WFW partner celebrates

"WFW and Mark Prevezer are pleased to report that they have resolved all disputes between them and in doing so they have withdrawn all allegations on the pleadings" said a spokesman for WFW.

"The other settlement terms are confidential to the parties", he added. "WFW are grateful to MP for his work over many years. The parties wish each other well for the future.” Grimaced smiles all round. 

Other WFW staff have demonstrated more inventive, but perhaps less lucrative, ways to air their frustrations at the firm.

Tip Off ROF


ShootyMcShootyface 02 August 19 11:20

As Creepy Joe might say, I'm probably older than you, kid.

Possibly as a result of my advanced age, I literally struggled to stay awake while reading this article.

In-house Wage Slave 02 August 19 11:38

Not directed at WFW as it is, I guess, positive that this issue has been dealt with but clients should take more of an interest in the culture of law firms and how they behave towards their staff when considering instructing firms. If firms treat their partners badly then it is likely that the rank and file don't fare any better. When I instruct a firm I want to be as sure as I can be that it is a happy and positive place so that the fee earners can focus on my legal problems rather than their own organisation's troubles.

FmrCityLawFirmWorker 02 August 19 13:02

"WFW are grateful to MP for his work over many years. The parties wish each other well for the future" 

So grateful, and wish each other so well, that they had to stick to the 'earlier defined' "MP" rather than referring to him by his first name. Oozes sincerity. ;-)

Aunt Sally 03 August 19 07:12

I hope WFW deploy some of the budget that was set aside for defending this claim towards sorting out its new website launched this week because it is utter sh1t. It looks as if it is the product of a high school underachiever’s PowerPoint project done while in a K-hole. Have a look, it is that bad.

Creept 06 August 19 22:44

Absolutely correct .   Good work by ROF with their investigative work and their ROF Firm of the Year Survey.....

In-houser 06 August 19 23:18

@ In-house Wage Slave - you are correct.   Clients are increasing looking at the culture of law firms and how they behave towards their staff when considering instructing firms.  Many of us have been in private practice and have seen or experienced plenty when it comes to cultural issues in a law firm.

Whether or not they like it, senior management (i.e. Senior Partners) have a critical role with influencing and fostering a positive working environment for all employees.  Instead some choose to hide and delegate the job to others and/or ignore the issue and simply blame cultural issues on a group of "disgruntled associates/support staff who will always complain".  

In my experience, the cause of many cultural issues is arrogant senior management whose conduct towards others has been unchecked and has led to a poor working culture.

Still Suffering at WFW 07 August 19 23:12

Agreed, the long-awaited, much anticipated overhaul of the WFW website is ... crap. 

Thames 08 August 19 23:43

What is also funny is watching the sycophants congratulating each other about the website as if they are doing missionary work?! Oh dear! ??

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