AWG looks to Herbies as Morrison Construction purchase goes sour

Herbert Smith is facing up to Dechert and Olswang as the long-awaited case between AWG and Sir Fraser Morrison kicks off in the High Court today (5 December).

Partner Adam Johnson is leading the case for AWG in its £130m claim against Sir Fraser over its September 2000 acquisition of construction business Morrison Construction.

AWG alleges that Sir Fraser, who chaired the company, and former group operations director Stephen McBrierty fraudulently misrepresented Morrison’s financial state prior to its sale.

The claim was originally launched in 2002 on the advice of two QCs and Herbert Smith. When AWG’s new chief executive Johnson Cox took over the role in 2004, Linklaters was asked to review the advice and told the company that the case should continue.

The trial, which is expected to last well into next year, is scheduled to begin today before Mr Justice Evans-Lombe. Preliminary issues have been heard in the High Court during the past two weeks.

Johnson initially instructed One Essex Court’s Elizabeth Gloster QC for AWG, but since her appointment to the bench Maitland Chambers’ Charles Aldous QC is leading the case, supported by 11 King’s Bench Walk’s Charles Béar QC.

Dechert litigation partner Andrew Hearn is acting for Sir Fraser, instructing XXIV Old Buildings’ Lawrence Cohen QC. McBrierty is represented by Olswang partner David Stewart and Philip Marshall QC of Serle Court.