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French court orders fired banker to repay $5 million

The award was overturned due to a parallel UK suit in which the trader had already won a much smaller payout

France’s top court has ruled that BNP Paribas banker Bertrand Lavigne, who won €4.5 million ($4.9 million) in an unfair dismissal case, cannot keep the financial award, Bloomberg reported on Monday.

The ruling, which was reportedly handed down on March 6 after legal consultations with EU judges, was based on the findings that Lavigne’s claim filed in France was similar to the one he filed against the same company in the UK, where he was awarded £81,175 ($104,330). 

The French court found that Lavigne’s claims were inadmissible in the country under these circumstances, as they “were related to his work contract with the same employer.” The decision reverses his 2019 win in the Paris court of appeals, bringing a decade of litigation in France to an end.

The plaintiff was fired from BNP in 2013 following a 15-year career at Europe’s second-largest bank. 

Lavigne headed the department of interest rate and FX trading for the Asia Pacific region in Singapore, and then managed a group of traders in London. The dismissal occurred amid a probe into benchmark rate rigging. 

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According to court filings seen by the news agency, Lavigne claimed that he went nearly two years without making any money after losing his job as BNP’s head of fixed-income trading and credit for Central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. 

The UK court found no evidence of misconduct on the banker’s part, and ruled that “his integrity is simply beyond doubt.” Based on this conclusion, Lavigne filed a lawsuit in France demanding additional compensation. 

In 2019, the Paris court of appeals said in its ruling that Lavigne had “suffered very serious harm from a material, professional and moral standpoint” from the “groundless” firing, and awarded far greater compensation. 

BNP Paribas is a French financial conglomerate ranked among the four largest banks in France. The lender did not admit to guilt, but agreed to contribute $661,600 to financial literacy projects.


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