Clifford Chance’s (CC) hopes for a quick resolution in its battle with Brobeck Phleger & Harrison has hit the rocks after a US bankruptcy court dramatically rejected the magic circle firm’s multi-million dollar settlement offer.
Judge Montali of the US Bankruptcy Court yesterday rebuffed the $4.5m settlement agreed between CC and Brobeck trustee Ronald Greenspan, instead ordering a courtroom auction to determine the proper price of the claims. The auction is set for 17 December.
Clifford Chance last month upped its original settlement of $3.75m, agreed with Greenspan in July, to $4.5m after a group of former Brobeck partners and asbestos lawyers made an unwelcome entrée into the dispute with an offer to buy the claim for $4m.
As revealed by The Lawyer, the bidding cabal consists of 10 lawyers including some former Brobeck partners and Stephen McClain and Stephen Kazan, name partners at Californian asbestos firm Kazan McClain Abrams Fernandez Lyons Farrise.
They allege that the UK firm triggered the collapse of Brobeck after the hire of 16 partners in 2002.
Clifford Chance is "evaluating" yesterday’s ruling and has not indicated whether it will participate in a competitive bidding process for the claim.
As reported by The Recorder, Judge Montali joked about the possibility of a skyrocketing auction, noting that during a similar claim, the bidding rose from $1m to $15m.