Headhunter suing over unpaid bonus

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Not uncommon in the investment banking world, a bonus dispute has surfaced in the headhunting arena. Mark Horlock, a former equities consultant at Akamai Financial, is understood to be in litigation with his former employer and its new owner, Hexagon Human Capital Plc, over its alleged failure to pay his 2007 bonus and the circumstances of his dismissal.

Akamai was sold to Hexagon for 1 in April, following the discovery of accounting irregularities at its parent company, Hat Pin.

Horlock, who has since moved to rival search firm Marshall Warburton, declined to comment. Gavin Bonnet, executive director at Akamai, denies that there are any issues over outstanding bonuses: "All contractual bonus awards have been fully paid to staff in London and Dubai."

Anne Pritam, employment partner at law firm Stevenson Harwood, says bonus disputes do happen in executive search, but are less prevalent than in banking.

Pritam adds that headhunter bonus claims are more straightforward than banking bonus claims because headhunters' bonuses tend to be based on percentage commissions and are not discretionary.

Rumour has it there's at least one other headhunter case currently in the market - related to a redundancy at another top firm.

Although Akamai has cut 25% of its staff, Ed Bathgate, head of search to search firm Longbottom, says there haven't been many job cuts at City headhunters: "Good people are still making money. They're not making as much money as they were last year, but there's still work to be done placing people at second-tier and smaller houses."