10 May 2012 at 13:57 BST

German bank loses £42m bonus battle

More than 100 bankers won a London High Court claim for £42 million in unpaid bonuses against Germany's second-biggest bank, with at least five of the claimants set to pocket more than £1m each.

Frankfurt: High court orders German bank to pay out

The Independent newspaper reports that 104 investment staff claimed that former employer Dresdner Klienwort – now owned by Commerzbank – should pay out the bonuses it had guaranteed in August 2008, weeks before the financial crises hit.
The ruling by Mr Justice Owen came despite Commerzbank’s argument that the bonuses were discretionary, rather than a contractual obligation. Commerzbank – headed by chief executive Martin Blessing – immediately said it would appeal, angering bankers who had been assured by Mr Blessing that the court’s decision would be accepted.


Clive Zietman, head of commercial litigation at London law firm Stewarts Law, represented 83 of the bankers. He said: ‘It was wrong of the bank to renege on its commitment. By doing so it acted contrary to well-established principles of English contract and employment law. It would be a pity if this case were to continue since it would seem to us that the only beneficiaries of further action will be the lawyers.’
Commerzbank said it was ‘disappointed’ with the decision, according to a report in the Daily Telegraph. In a statement the bank said: ‘We believe that the decision to reduce discretionary bonuses in light of the €6.5 billion of losses at Dresdner Klienwort in 2008 was responsible and justified.’

Cutting pay

In other banking news, prospective legislation was unveiled in the Queen’s speech – which sets out the British government’s forthcoming legislative agenda -- that will see retail and investment banks split, as well as executive pay cut and employment tribunals curbed, according to the Daily Telegraph.

Also read...

Plaudits for Reynen Court beta launch

Five beta law firms and over ninety third-party application vendors go live with single platform for legal technology after twelve months of development.