Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan has referred itself to the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), the regulatory body that oversees solicitors in England and Wales, in response to allegations of inappropriate behavior by now-dismissed litigation partner Mark Hastings.
On Thursday, the firm said that it “expelled” Hastings on Tuesday, his dismissal effective immediately and without compensation, following an investigation into Hastings’ behavior.
Allegations against Hastings, a London-based partner, were made in February by two staff members, and the firm immediately suspended him. It also commissioned an investigation by Mishcon de Reya partner and business crime head Alison Levitt QC. Hastings was dismissed without compensation as a result of her findings, which were given to the firm in late April.
“Quinn Emanuel takes allegations of the nature made against Mr. Hastings extremely seriously,” the firm said in a statement. “We will not tolerate abusive behaviour from anyone within the firm. Where allegations of inappropriate behaviour are brought to our attention, they will be investigated and appropriate action will be taken, without exception.”
The firm also stated that it would offer no further comment at this time out of respect for the complainants’ rights to privacy. But it noted that it has not sought and will not seek any form of nondisclosure agreement from the complainants in relation to the allegations they have made.
Hastings could not immediately be reached for comment.
As a result of Quinn’s decision to refer itself to the SRA, the regulator will now gather evidence before deciding whether or not to formally investigate the firm.
“We have received a report and will gather all relevant evidence before deciding on any appropriate action,” a spokesperson for the SRA said.
The SRA regulates the professional conduct of more than 125,000 solicitors and other authorized individuals at more than 11,000 firms in England and Wales, as well as those working in-house at private and public sector organizations. It was formed in 2007 by government statute, under the Legal Services Act 2007, to act as the independent regulator of solicitors.
Hastings joined Quinn after resigning from Addleshaw in late 2016, having previously worked at legacy Herbert Smith. As head of civil fraud at the national firm, he was well-known for his work acting for oligarch Boris Berezovsky on a series of cases, including a dispute with Chelsea Football Club owner Roman Abramovich. He also acted on action against Russian metal magnate Vasily Anisimov and investment company Salford Capital Partners.
In a 2012 interview with London affiliate Legal Week, he described the Berezovsky litigation as his most memorable case and proudest professional moment.
Hastings joins a growing list of partners who have left law firms as a result of inappropriate behavior.
In March, Latham & Watkins chair and managing partner Bill Voge resigned from the firm after admitting to ”communications of a sexual nature” with a woman he met through a Christian support group of which he was a member.
This followed a Baker McKenzie partner leaving the firm in February in response to an alleged incident several years earlier, with the firm facing SRA scrutiny in response to its handling of the alleged incident. In that case, the lawyer received a payout from the firm and entered into a nondisclosure agreement.
Last year, Legal Week research found that nearly two-thirds of female lawyers have experienced some form of sexual harassment while working at a law firm, with more than half experiencing it on more than one occasion. A number of female lawyers also spoke anonymously to Legal Week about their experiences of sexual harassment in the profession, following the research.