Collyer Bristow faces £25m claim from Rangers FC administrators

Collyer Bristow is facing damages claims of at least £25m over the firm’s role in the Rangers FC administration, The Lawyer can reveal.

The ongoing legal wrangle in the fallout from the Scottish football club’s lurch into financial difficulties was adjourned last month so that wider claims against its legal advisers could be submitted to the High Court by Monday (16 April 2012).

The Lawyer understands that the additional claims relate to the firm’s involvement in Craig Whyte’s doomed takeover deal and the way that deal was structured. The football club’s administrators, Duff & Phelps partners Paul Clark and David Whitehouse, allege that Collyer Bristow breached its rights and obligations under that deal. They have accused the firm of professional negligence and breach of fiduciary duty.

But today the firm hit back and branded the administrators’ claims “highly speculative” and pledged to “vigorously defend” them.

A spokesman for Collyer Bristow said: “On 23 March Rangers administrators’ made a request to vacate the previously agreed court date in order that they could consider bringing ‘wider claims’ against Collyer Bristow in relation to the takeover of Rangers Football Club and its subsequent administration. At this time the court set a deadline of 16 April for parties involved in the transaction to submit their claims. 

“As expected, late yesterday evening (16 April) Collyer Bristow received detailed particulars of the claim on behalf of the administrators’ Duff & Phelps. A significant proportion of the damages claimed by the administrators (in excess of £25m) relate to claims for ‘consequential loss’, which we believe to be highly speculative. 

“As we have previously stated, it is our intention to contest all claims brought by the administrators in the strongest possible terms and this remains our position.”

Collyer Bristow has instructed Clyde & Co partner Richard Harrison and senior associate Nicole McKinnon to defend the allegations.

Clydes has called on 3VB counsel Cyril Kinsky QC and Matthew Hardwick, who will go up against South Square Chambers’ Mark Phillips QC and Mark Bayfield on behalf of Duff & Phelps. The administrators’ counsel were instructed by Taylor Wessing restructuring partner Nick Moser.

Collyer Bristow does not contest any claim to the £3.6m of client money that was transferred out of the firm to Taylor Wessing for safekeeping last month. The UK tax authorities, a pension fund and Duff & Phelps are all claiming a share.

The further claims come as former Ibrox director Paul Murray’s Blue Knights consortium took a step back in the race to buy the club. Singaporean Bill Ng looks like the favourite to complete a deal with administrators Duff and Phelps.

Former Collyer Bristow partner Gary Withey, who advised on Whyte on the takeover of the historic Scottish club and was named as Rangers secretary following Whyte’s £1 buyout, last week resurfaced at City boutique Segens Solicitors (11 April 2012).

Withey had left the firm when Rangers went into administration (5 March 2012).