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and Mark Prevezer are pleased to report that they have resolved all disputes between them and in doing so they have withdrawn all allegations on the pleadings" said a spokesman for WFW.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