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28 September 2021

Charles Russell Speechlys Hong Kong successfully defends equal opportunities action brought against Novartis

Charles Russell Speechlys has successfully defended an equal opportunities action brought against Novartis Pharmaceuticals (HK) Limited.

A former employee, whose contract was terminated in December 2016 on the ground of redundancy, brought this action against our client claiming that his employment was terminated due to illness. The claimant was seeking various reliefs including a letter of apology, and damages amounting to close to HK$ 1 million.

In addition to this, our client was subject to numerous defamatory statements published by media outlets on the first day of the trial suggesting that the claimant had succeeded and that our client was liable for paying damages. We acted swiftly and successfully demanded that the relevant outlets promptly remove the articles to prevent further disrepute.

In September 2021, following a six-year-long contentious process, the judge dismissed the claim and determined that the sole reason for the claimant’s termination was redundancy. We were successful on all counts, with all claims and requests being dismissed in their entirety. We are delighted to have assisted the client in securing this important win, especially due to the potential reputational damage at stake.

Catherine Lau, in-house Counsel from Novartis Pharmaceuticals (HK) Limited says: “We are extremely grateful for the assistance provided to us by Patrick and the team at Charles Russell Speechlys”.

Charles Russell Speechlys Partner Patrick Chan says: “We were thrilled to work closely with the team at Novartis on this case and are delighted to have been able to assist them in bringing an end to this long-running matter that threatened significant reputational damage. We look forward to being able to support them in the future”.