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Towers and JLT appealing Guy Carp poaching decision

Towers Watson and JLT Re are set to appear in a New York court later this year to appeal against a previous decision that blocked the companies from suing Guy Carpenter after it hired senior executive Jay Woods and a team of accident and health (A&H) brokers.

In a 14 January decision, the New York Supreme Court found that a non-disclosure agreement (NDA), which Towers said prevented Guy Carpenter from engaging its staff, no longer applied after JLT Re agreed a deal to buy the business.

Towers and JLT Re filed an appeal with the Supreme Court's appellate division on 8 May, and the case is expected to be heard later in the year.

Woods was unveiled as co-chairman of Guy Carpenter's recently formed mutual company specialty practice on 6 September last year, hours after resigning as head of brokerage in North America at Towers.

Days before the $250mn sale of its reinsurance intermediary to JLT was announced on 20 September, Towers filed a lawsuit in New York alleging Woods and Guy Carpenter had engaged in an "unlawful coordinated scheme to divert to themselves Towers Watson's reinsurance business".

In an 11 September filing, it claimed that the move was responsible for "undermining the value of the reinsurance business".

The defendants dismissed the Towers action as an attempt to "squelch competition for its brokers" and to "foreclose its brokers from the market for their services", according to a response filed on 28 September.

The Towers suit focused on an NDA signed by Guy Carpenter after the professional services firm approached it in March in search of a buyer for its reinsurance arm.

The NDA, signed on 3 April last year, included provisions designed to prevent Guy Carpenter from engaging, or soliciting to engage, Towers Watson employees.

In its lawsuit, Towers confirmed that Guy Carpenter made an offer that was not accepted, at which time it informed the broking giant it was "moving in another direction".

The world's second-biggest reinsurance broker then "set about unlawfully to convert a substantial portion of that business and to lure away its people - its key asset - without paying the price", Towers alleged.

The action claimed that while engaging Towers in discussions subject to the terms of the NDA, Guy Carpenter was soliciting Woods to defect.

Towers said the executive had "embarked on a treacherous path".

It also accused Guy Carpenter of breaching the NDA by luring away Towers' entire A&H division, led by Dennis Arizin and Jim DePre, taking clients with them and "millions of dollars of revenues".

But the court sided with the defendants, who argued that their actions were not in breach of the NDA, which no longer applied after the JLT deal had completed.

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