SYDNEY--Hill & Knowlton is pursuing legal action against two former senior executives, alleging that they breached contractual obligations by poaching clients after departing for Edelman.

The WPP-owned agency is suing former Australia CEO Michelle Hutton, former head of consumer Anna MacIntosh, and Edelman. Hutton left Hill & Knowlton for Edelman in early 2010, followed by MacIntosh later in the year.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, court documents allege that Edelman induced the pair to leave and take clients with them. After an initial hearing, the matter will return to court later this year.

Hutton’s arrival at Edelman has helped kickstart aggressive growth at its Australian operations, which were worth approximately $5 million when she joined. Since then, there has been new business from Samsung, Nature’s Own and Wrigley, among others.

Hill & Knowlton Asia-Pacific president and COO Viv Lines (pictured) declined to comment, “as the matter is currently before the court.” Edelman’s David Brain, who succeeded Alan VanderMolen as Asia-Pacific CEO at the start of this year, did not respond to request for comment.