Deloitte Partner sacked for 'bullying' gets £125,000 legal bill

14 January 2020 3 min. read
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A former Deloitte Partner dismissed for “bullying” staff and charging a client for a trip to the Singapore Grand Prix has lost his challenge in London’s High Court. David Joseph will now need to make an interim payment of £125,000 to cover the legal expenses Deloitte had to pay fighting the case.

In late 2018, a whistleblowing hotline used by Deloitte received a number of complaints regarding the conduct of David Joseph, a Switzerland-based Partner who had been with the firm since 2012. Joseph joined the firm from Big Four rival KPMG, where he had worked for almost two decades.

In 2018, a number of allegations came to light suggesting that the senior banking consultant was not adhering to the firm’s protocols. Complaints to a whistleblowing hotline suggested that Joseph had lapsed into bullying and favouritism with regards to his Deloitte duties, while his company expenses were also said to be excessive. The Partner was later found to have charged a Deloitte client for a lavish trip to the Singapore Grand Prix. The investigation also found claims over several years had included a new scarf, a health club membership, an iPhone 6 case, train season tickets and an iPad pro.

Rather than formally dismissing the Partner, Deloitte initially moved to push him into retirement, giving him notice “on account of serious and sustained concerns as to his conduct and judgement.” Joseph moved to challenge Deloitte in the High Court in London, claiming he was denied his right to appeal against the decision, while demanding that the firm convene a meeting of its Partners to allow him to challenge the board’s decision before them.

Deloitte Partner sacked for 'bullying' gets £125,000 legal bill

Joseph’s case was ultimately rejected by the High Court because a deadline was missed. According to The Telegraph, he has now been hit with a bill for legal costs after losing the claim against Deloitte. Joseph’s own legal costs came to £138,000, but he has been ordered to pay an interim amount of £125,000 for costs incurred by Deloitte in fighting the case.

Deloitte had initially stated it had spent £300,000 on the process, but this figure looks unlikely to be recouped following the intervention of Justice Philippa Whipple, who presided over the case. During the hearing, she found that Deloitte’s £300,000 bill seemed “rather excessive” for a “one-day trial of narrow compass, with a relatively small number of relevant documents and witness statements”.

As a result, Whipple stated she hoped the parties would be able to “agree costs without needing to incur further costs in fighting about costs." However, if they cannot do so, a further hearing will be needed to rule on the amount Joseph – who was formerly one of Deloitte's highest fee earners in Switzerland – pays.

The news comes amid a whirlwind of harassment allegations among the upper ranks of the Big Four in the UK. In late 2018, it was confirmed that EY, KPMG, PwC and Deloitte had each parted ways with multiple Partners over inappropriate behaviour – including allegations of bullying and sexual harassment.