Hogan Lovells partners copied into another email, which they know they really, really shouldn't read...
A ex-employee of Hogan Lovells has been ordered to pay costs to the firm, having sent a "barrage of unreasonable correspondence" to one partner, copying in a "significant number" of other partners.
Mr Donskoi was employed by Hogan Lovells "to provide services" for "significant legal matters", but the firm terminated the engagement in August 2020.
The former employee brought three claims: unfair dismissal; automatic unfair dismissal by reason of a protected disclosure; and a claim for detriment arising by reason of a protected disclosure.
Hogan Lovells applied to have the claims struck out on the grounds that Donskoi had conducted the proceedings in a manner which was "scandalous, unreasonable or vexatious."
At a recent employment tribunal hearing, Judge Kelly struck out the unfair dismissal claim, as the ex-staffer had not worked for the required two-year qualifying period. The other two claims also failed, as Hogan Lovells successfully argued that any potentially protected disclosure that the claimant relied upon, came after his dismissal.
Hogan Lovells applied for costs of £20,000 arguing that at a previous preliminary hearing in 2021, another judge had made it clear "that it was inappropriate" for Donskoi "to make serious allegations of impropriety against solicitors without a clear and proper basis for doing so."
At the most recent hearing, Judge Kelly found that Donskoi had made "numerous attacks on the professional integrity" of a Hogan Lovells partner, with a "barrage of unreasonable correspondence", which included addressing him as “Mr dear deceptive friend” in emails, and referring to him as "deceptive" and "dodgy".
In one email, Donskoi wrote to the employment partner: “your greediness and lies have made me a bit tired”. He also referred to Hogan Lovells as a firm of “liars and scammers”.
The judge noted that the ex-employee had "copied in all of (or certainly a significant number of) partners" at Hogan Lovells into his correspondence, with the purpose, Donskoi suggested, to prevent the partner who was the subject of his ire, from lying.
In determining costs, Judge Kelly commented that Donskoi had pursued "a hopeless claim" which would have been apparent after a preliminary hearing in July 2021. He also criticised the claimant for submitting "voluminous" material for the hearing, "most of which" was irrelevant.
Judge Kelly ordered Donskoi to pay a sum of £4,000 in costs to Hogan Lovells.