Signature Litigation matters recognised in The Lawyer’s Top 20 Cases of 2017

By Graham Huntley

Top 20 Cases 2017: Lawyers to battle it out on record £25bn disputes

Tabby Kinder | 16 January 2017

This year is gearing up to be one of the most lucrative ever for the UK disputes market, with a record £25bn in dispute across The Lawyer’s Top 20 Cases 2017…

What would have been the biggest case of the year, the RBS Rights Issue Litigation, which is set to be heard in April, has dropped in value by around three quarters thanks to three claimant groups settling in December. Signature Litigation is still representing 24,000 corporate and individual investors in their £1bn claim against the bank and former chief executive Fred Goodwin…

10-partner boutique Signature Litigation is instructed on two cases in the top 20, as is Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan (one group of claimants being 46 million British MasterCard users). Stewarts Law is also acting on two of the top 20, while Hausfeld, Peters & Peters and Enyo Law are acting on one each…


Top cases of 2017

RBS Shareholders Action Group RBS

Chancery division,
April, 25 weeks

Once valued at £4bn this claim will see around 27,000 retail investors take RBS to the High Court over claims they were misled ahead of a £12bn rescue fundraising at the peak of the financial crisis.

The group is represented by Signature Litigation, having swapped its lawyers twice in the three years leading up to trial. Its claim is valued at around £1.1bn and will see the group take a number of RBS former senior executives – including former chief executive Fred Goodwin – to court in April.

The action group will fight the case alone after three other claimant groups, mostly made up of institutional investors, settled for around £800m in December. The settling investors were represented by Stewarts Law, Quinn Emanuel and Mishcon de Reya.

This mammoth bank dispute has already given rise to a number of landmark pre-trial orders on disclosure, including a ruling in December that RBS cannot claim privilege over a raft of legal interviews related to its 2008 rights issue.

For claimants, RBS Shareholders Action Group

3 Verulam Buildings’ Jonathan Nash QC, Peter de Vernueil Smith, Ian Higgins and Hannah Glover, instructed by Signature Litigation partner Graham Huntley

For the defendant, RBS

One Essex Court’s Sonia Tolaney QC, Fountain Court’s David Railton QC and James McClelland, David Murray, Natasha Bennett, Daniel Edmonds, Deborah Horowitz and Philip Ahlquist, Serle Court’s David Blayney QC and Simon Hattan, instructed by Herbert Smith Freehills partners Simon Clarke, Adam Johnson and Kirsten Massey


Director of the Serious Fraud Office Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation

Queen’s Bench Division,
6 February, five days (first substantive hearing)

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has launched a civil court battle against Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation (ENRC) – currently also the subject of a lengthy criminal probe – to determine what material may be covered by legal privilege ahead of disclosure in the investigation.

Both parties have agreed to have the case heard in private. It marks the latest in a series of cases in which the SFO has launched secret civil proceedings against corporates in a bid not to prejudice a criminal investigation. The SFO brought a similar claim against Barclays in 2015 in an attempt to access evidence amid the agency’s criminal probe into the bank’s £5.8bn emergency cash-call during the financial crisis and its links to Qatari investors.

ENRC initially instructed Debevoise & Plimpton on the civil claim but later switched its defence to Signature Litigation.

The mining giant is also advised by Quinn Emanuel on the criminal probe, and is engaged in a separate legal battle with its former lawyers Dechert over claims the firm overcharged it £11m in fees.

For the claimant, the SFO

Red Lion Chambers’ Jonathan Fisher QC, instructed by the Director of the SFO

For the defendant, ENRC

Fountain Court’s Richard Lissack QC and Tamara Oppenheimer, instructed by Signature Litigation partners Graham Huntley and Daniel Spendlove

Read the full articles in The Lawyer here and here.

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