With just days to go before a High Court hearing they seemed doomed to lose, the founding partners of agency hotshop Adam & Eve have settled out of court with WPP.
The predicted grovelling apology was forthcoming and has been prominently displayed on WPP’s website, like some traitor’s head spiked at the Tower of London. In it, partners James Murphy, David Golding and Ben Priest fulsomely acknowledge that they broke the terms of their gardening leave when they quit WPP-owned Young & Rubicam to set up A&E. Further, if “unintentionally”, that they absconded with WPP-owned data.
There was also a price to pay, said to be somewhat under £1m, plus considerable legal expenses: perhaps £1m in all. That is cheap compared with the $10m (before costs) WPP recently extracted from two former George Patterson executives and the agency’s ex-owner, PEP, in Australia. But it is no small change for the embattled A&E partners, who are under personal guarantee. Their only consolation is that A&E has escaped to fight another day.