Fifty-day Liverpool FC hearing averted as high-profile case settles

The former owners of Liverpool Football Club Tom Hicks and George Gillett have settled their High Court battle with the club’s former board of directors and financier RBS.

The case was set down for a 50-day hearing in front of Mr Justice Peter Smith from April, with Clyde & Co partner Paul Friedman instructing 3 Verulam Buildings’ Ali Malek QC, Gregory Mitchell QC and 4 Stone Buildings’ Richard Hill QC for Hicks and Gillett.

In December the Court of Appeal refused to delay the start of the trial or vary an order for security for costs (8 January 2013). According to the CoA ruling, the claimants paid £712,000 on account securing the future of the case, half of what they had offered to pay by way of security.

Hicks and Gillett wanted a High Court declaration that the club’s former chairman Martin Broughton, managing director Christian Purslow and commercial director Ian Ayre had conspired with RBS to sell the club at a reduced price in 2010.

The pair had attempted to block the £300m sale to New England Sports Ventures (NESV) but the deal went ahead after the High Court found them to be in breach of an agreement with RBS that permitted Broughton to lead the sale process.

In his CoA ruling Lord Justice Lewison highlighted the ferocity of the battle stating that “the extraordinary volume of paper, the extravagantly long skeleton arguments, which more resemble the Michelin Man than skeletons, and the inordinate citation of authority are quite inappropriate for an application dealing principally with case management decisions”.

RBS has already spent in excess of £1m on legal costs associated with the case.

A statement released today stated: “The parties have now agreed a settlement (the terms of which are confidential). All claims and allegations made against Messrs Broughton, Purslow and Ayre have been withdrawn by Messrs Hicks and Gillett and all legal proceedings between the parties concluded.”

Monckton Chambers’ Paul Harris QC was instructed by Broughton, while Erskine Chambers’ Richard Snowden QC was instructed by Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer partner Patrick Swain for RBS.

For more on this and other top cases see The Top Cases 2013,

The legal line-up

For the claimants Tom Hicks and George Gillett, and their respective companies: 3 Verulam Buildings’ Ali Malek QC and Gregory Mitchell QC, and 4 Stone Buildings’ Richard Hill QC leading 3 Verulam Buildings’ Christopher Harris and Sebastian Isaac of One Essex Court, instructed by Clyde & Co partner Paul Friedman.

For the defendants Broughton, Purslow and Ayre: Monckton Chambers’ Paul Harris QC and Serle Court’s Philip Marshall QC leading Monckton Chambers’ Owain Draper, instructed by Couchmans partner Satish Khandke and Enyo Law partner George Maling.

For the defendant RBS: Erskine Chambers’ Richard Snowden QC leading James Potts of the same set and Fountain Court’s Patrick Goodall, instructed by Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer partner Patrick Swain.

For the defendant NESV: Erskine Chambers’ David Chivers QC leading Philip Gillyon, instructed by Shearman & Sterling partner Jo Rickard.