"A lawyer with his briefcase can steal more than a hundred men with guns," famously opined Godfather Don Corleone.

Few would disagree with the Don - albeit for reasons quite different to those that pertained Tuesday at London's High Court. In an intriguing volte face, lawyers acting for WPP Group asked the court to overturn last week's default ruling in WPP's favour in its case against Marco Benatti [WAMN: 14-Mar-06].

As explained to the court by WPP's legal team, fuzzy logic became fuzzier yet. "The High Court has been asked by WPP to set aside the default judgment obtained on 8th March 2006 against Benatti to allow him time to file with the court a valid acknowledgement to the proceedings," said a WPP lawyer.

Pausing to place a cold compress on his forehead, the advocate continued: "The original acknowledgement lodged by Benatti was rejected by the court as being defective. Once Benatti lodges a valid acknowledgement the litigation will proceed in the usual way."

Meantime, Benatti's consiglieri in Milan counter-attacked with vigor, questioning whether the London ruling was binding, because both parties were not in the courtroom.

Team Benatti also said they will ask Italian stock market regulator CONSOB, to investigate WPP for market manipulation. Benatti is in the throes of a takeover bid - which expires Friday March 17 - for local marketing firm Fullsix, in which WPP is also a shareholder.

Furthermore, Benatti, WPP Italia's former 'country manager', alleges that last weekend WPP briefed journalists as to his "guilt" - despite what his lawyers now call an "irregular ruling".

Data sourced from AdWeek (USA); additional content by WARC staff