Bankers win High Court battle to claim £42m in bonuses

Stat of the day: £42m. More than 100 bankers have won in their High Court attempt to recoup unpaid bonuses.

by Michael Northcott
Last Updated: 19 Aug 2013

The current climate of banker-bashing did not deter a group of 104 bankers working for Germany’s Dresdner Kleinwort. They went to court over bonuses that they say they are still owed by their employer.

The bank argued that because of poor financial results last year, all bonuses had been dramatically reduced to reflect this. But it wasn’t enough for this group, whose individual claims range from a few thousand pounds to more than £1m. They argued that a verbal agreement constituted a binding contract, and Mr Justice Owen agreed.

The bank has said it plans to appeal the decision, but if that doesn’t work, the payouts will have to start in earnest. The two biggest claims are from bankers Jonathan Powell who was due £1.34m, and Jeremy Thomas £1.28m. 

Critics yesterday said Mr Justice Owen was backing the bonus culture with his decision, but he refuted this from the off: ‘The issue in this case arose within a narrow ambit that concerns the nature and existence of contractual obligations. This did not concern the wider issues of the structure of remuneration within the banking industry.’ Well said, your honour.

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