An out-of-court settlement reached on Thursday (6 December) between Merrill Lynch and Unilever's pension fund was mediated by a member of ADR Chambers in Taunton.
The dispute was over Merrill Lynch Investment Managers' (MLIM) handling of £1bn of Unilever's money in 1997 and early 1998. Details of the settlement are unlikely to be made public. The bank's legal team is preparing for further predicted actions brought by disgruntled owners of other pension funds handled by MLIM, formerly known as Mercury Asset Management. Other owners include J Sainsbury, regarded as the most determined claimant because of the way its £3bn of assets were managed in the mid-1990s, Surrey County Council's £700m fund, and AstraZeneca, which invested £2bn. CMS Cameron McKenna, Linklaters and Denton Wilde Sapte are all longstanding advisers to J Sainsbury. AstraZeneca counts Addleshaw Booth & Co, Davis Polk & Wardwell, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Linklaters and Rowe & Maw among its advisers. The defeated legal team for the bank was led by Ian Glick QC of One Essex Court, who is a former chairman of the Commercial Bar Association. He led Patricia Robertson and Patrick Goodall, both of Fountain Court. They were instructed by Simmons & Simmons, led by partner Jonathan Kelly assisted by Robert Turner and Joanna Hoyles. Despite being a longstanding adviser for Merrill Lynch, Clifford Chance was left out of the action, because when the US bank acquired Mercury Asset Management it also inherited its legal advisers. ADR Chambers is comprised of retired Law Lords, Lord Justices, High Court Judges, Circuit Court Judges and other judges, as well as retired and practising barristers and solicitors. Jonathan Sumption QC of Brick Court chambers led Kenneth MacLean and David Wolfson, both of One Essex Court, for Unilever. They were instructed by a Slaughter and May team led by partner Deborah Finkler, with senior assistants Jonathan Cotton and Tom Roth, and junior assistant Nicola Williams.