Andrea Orcel has the right to launch legal action against Santander for terminating the Italian banker’s appointment as chief executive, according to lawyers.

The Spanish Bank shocked the finance industry on January 15 when it said it was not prepared to cover the tens of millions of dollars in deferred stock Orcel was owed by his former employer UBS.

Legal experts said that if a prospective employee has accepted an offer of employment, a binding legal contract comes into existence between the two parties. If the offer is withdrawn, this amounts to a breach of contract that gives the new hire grounds to claim damages.

"Orcel might be able to sue Santander for revoking the offer if a contract had already been signed. It is quite possible that the offer would have included a substantial signing on bonus which he will be able to argue should be honoured," said Alex Bearman, a partner in the employment team at London-based law firm Russell-Cooke.

Santander could face legal action over Orcel U-turn, lawyers say is available to read on the Financial News website.

Alex is a partner in the employment team, acting for both employers and employees. He specialises in all areas of contentious employment law, including unfair dismissal, discriminationwhistleblowing and breach of contract, and has experience of dealing with claims brought in the courts as well as in the Employment Tribunal. He also represents clients involved in discrimination claims outside of the employment field.