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Out-of-court win for victim of company poaching

A consultancy which specialises in the design, manufacture and installation of smoke control and ventilation systems was awarded a substantial out-of-court settlement against a former director who resigned from the firm, taking a considerable amount of business with him.

Earlier this week Fire Engineering Associates (FEA) – and sister companies Interactive Ventilation and Interactive Special Projects (IV) – was awarded in excess of £250,000 after Ian Andrew Moore moved projects worth more than £500,000 to his new business, Dynamic Smoke Control.

Mr Moore was the marketing director of FEA and the IV companies, based in Trafford Park, Manchester from 1997, following a four-year business association with fellow directors.

After he resigned in November 2004, FEA discovered that he had been holding secret talks with the company’s clients throughout the year. These talks, FEA claimed, enabled Mr Moore to leave the business with more than £500,000-worth of future contracts for underground car park ventilation systems.

Legal action was launched and after a series of case conferences and mediation services, Moore admitted liability in June 2006. Forensic accountant Daniel Djanogly, of Kingston Smith in London, was appointed to determine the actual loss of profit, assessed at £197,000. The final settlement sum includes assessed profit and legal costs.

Commenting on the award, FEA director David Fenlon said: “This result has vindicated our position – we have emerged stronger and wiser. The exceptional amount of time spent on legal and accountancy issues has had a big impact on the company and me personally, because we had been friends as well as business partners.

“But the breach of trust and depth of deception during a calculated, orchestrated plan to divert business away from FEA took no account of that friendship, the threat to the future of the companies or the livelihoods of everyone who works here.”