Sorrell Versus Benatti: WPP Wins Round One

14 March 2006

The High Court in London ruled on Friday that Marco Benatti, had breached his contract and failed in his fiduciary duties whilst in his former role of 'country manager' at WPP Italia.

The case revolved around a commission paid by WPP to Benatti for 'introducing' the group to Mediaclub, an Italian media shop that was subsequently acquired by WPP - and in which it later emerged Benatti held an equity stake.

In a judgement made by default (Benatti chose not to be represented at the hearing) the judge awarded damages to WPP Group of €206,582 ($246,700; £142,516) - equivalent to the commission paid to the defendant. Issues of breach of contract and fiduciary duty will be assessed for damages at a later date.

But WPP claims it can prove Benatti held not just a stake in Mediaclub - but a controlling stake - and will present evidence to that effect at a further hearing. If proven, the court could compel Benatti to make a further repayment equal to the profit he made from Mediaclub's sale.

Meantime, Benatti is counter-attacking WPP with a suit for wrongful dismissal and threatens to extend the action to Sir Martin Sorrell personally, hinting he might even formally charge him with criminal libel [WAMN: 14-Feb-06].

Data sourced from; additional content by WARC staff