The judge certainly did.
Harneys gave a client "plainly wrong" advice which "served only to generate fees" for the offshore firm, a judge has said.
Justice Jonathan Harris made the highly critical findings as he ruled on the winding up of an energy company, China Oil Gangran Energy Group Holding Limited, in the Hong Kong High Court.
Judge Harris said restructuring the company's Hong Kong-governed debt by establishing a scheme of arrangement in the Cayman Islands had "no utility", but that Harneys "advised the opposite".
Chai Ridgers, Harneys' Head of Restructuring in Asia, had told the liquidators that “Pursuing parallel schemes of arrangement in both Hong Kong and the Cayman Islands...remains favourable" in an email which the judge said "makes little sense" and "certainly does not reconcile the inconsistency in Harneys' advice".
Judge Harris said recommending a Cayman Islands scheme was "plainly wrong" and suggested the only effect of doing so was to rack up fees for the firm.
"It is difficult not to conclude that in framing his advice Mr Ridgers’s aim was to persuade [the liquidators] that it was necessary to instruct his firm to cause a scheme to be introduced in the Cayman Islands", said the judge, and was "not to provide an accurate answer to the question on which Harneys’ advice had been sought".
"In my view a scheme in the Cayman Islands was plainly not necessary in the present case and served only to generate fees for Harneys and reduce the amount available for Scheme Creditors", he ruled.
Phillip Kite, Co-head of Harneys Global Litigation, Insolvency and Restructuring team, told RollOnFriday, "While we note the Learned Judge’s opinion, we respectfully disagree with a number of points raised in his findings".
"We agree that parallel schemes of arrangement should only be pursued where they are necessary, and maintain that such a scheme was required in this matter. As such, we stand by the advice provided at the time, which was based on established case law, and our fees were commensurate with that advice”, said Kite.
Harneys, which has delighted readers with its branded colouring book and its Managing Partner Ian Mann's conviction for misconduct, has not been resting on its ASS unit in the wake of its court drubbing.
This week Mann and Ridgers "decided to release" a new "position paper" on, wait for it, "the Harneys 'Schemario Rules'".
"What are Schemarios?" they ask.
According to Mann and Ridgers, "Schemarios are 'scheme-scenarios' which form governing rules to establish when a parallel scheme of arrangement is necessary".
Readers might have assumed that Harneys was the one firm which should not be holding itself out as an expert on schemes of arrangement right now, but Mann and Ridger venture that "the Schemarios will be helpful to practitioners of cross-border restructuring around the world".
Especially as, they say, "knowing when to initiate a parallel scheme of arrangement has become a hot topic of late" - although modesty prevented them from spelling out why that might be.