Three former directors of leisure consultancy HVS also in High Court
Colliers CRE is being sued in the High Court over its plans to poach clients and staff from leisure firm HVS International.
Three former directors at global hotel consultancy HVS – Dominique Bourdais, Karen Smith and Marc Finney, who are on garden leave and are expected to join Colliers subsidiary Locum Consulting are also being sued.
The former directors, who left HVS at the start of April, are being accused of passing confidential details about HVS’s clients to hotel consultancy Locum’s chairman, Richard Tibbott.
The High Court heard the plan, which was code-named Project Chaos, was a ‘deliberate attempt to harm HVS as much as possible’.
A series of emails were allegedly sent between Bourdais, Smith, Finney and Tibbott, detailing their plans.
Selwyn Bloch QC, who is acting for HVS, read out an email dated 24 March 2008 between Finney and Tibbott in which the former detailed projects he could take to Locum.
‘Dom [Bourdais] indicated that you would want to know the projects I am involved in for HVS and what could be brought with us,’ the email said.
Bloch said the email detailed 13 HVS projects, including three that Finney is now working on. In a follow-up email to Tibbott, Bourdais allegedly added projects he had been ‘sitting on’ while at HVS to the list. The value of the contracts referred to in court varies between £15,000 and £150,000.
The court also heard that Bourdais forwarded Tibbott a summary of an HVS proposal for ‘a hotel and condo units’, which was then used to create a Locum proposal for the same job.
Smith allegedly emailed Microsoft Excel spreadsheets listing HVS’s clients to Finney while she was still at the company.
Bourdais, Smith and Finney are also accused of using unwitting colleagues to gain access to passwords and confidential reports.
They also allegedly drew up a list of HVS staff, as well as salaries and bonuses, to assist Locum in poaching HVS staff. Stuart Hornett, barrister for Colliers and Locum, said the companies denied the allegations.
Following the case, Tibbott said it was inappropriate to comment while the matter was the subject of High Court proceedings.
The case was in court on Tuesday because HVS was applying for an injunction against the defendants to stop them dealing with the clients whose details were allegedly being passed to Colliers.
Bourdais, Smith, Colliers and Locum have agreed not to use the information without admitting liability. The court ruled not to grant the injunction against Finney, saying that, if it was found he had acted illegally at trial, the profits from such deals could be recovered by HVS through the courts.
The next hearing into the case will be held in two weeks.