Grapevine

Stadlen slams Pollock and Lovells
The speech of Fountain Court’s Nicholas Stadlen QC at the close of the epic BCCI trial on Wednesday 2 November was so good we decided to print it in its entirety. Well, nearly in its entirety. Here are the edited highlights of his masterful 6,901-word blast:
“Today the claimants have, by their discontinuance, publicly conceded that the claim against the Bank [of England] is hopeless and that it cannot succeed. After more than 12 years their case has collapsed, and there should be no mistake, this is unconditional surrender. It’s time for the spotlight to shift to the other side of the court and for scrutiny to be brought to bear on the manner in which this hopeless case has been prolonged.

“The way in which this litigation has been conducted has been nothing short of disgraceful. The presentation of the claimants’ case was riddled with inconsistencies, which would be comical if they were not so serious. My learned friend Mr Pollock himself conceded in his opening speech that the allegedly dishonest officials were just decent people trying to do their jobs – a striking phrase, which can have left nobody in this court in any doubt that the suggestion that those same people can have had the dishonest state of mind required to commit misfeasance was simply absurd.

“In the past few weeks, your Lordship as well has had to bear the brunt of my learned friend’s [Gordon Pollock’s] discourtesy and indeed downright rudeness, as have the representatives of the bank, and that is not something that should happen in the Commercial Court.

“The bank will be making an application for indemnity costs to your Lordship, and in ruling on that application the bank will ask your Lordship to look at the claimants’ conduct in the round. Your Lordship’s judgment should, in our respectful submission, in due course address why the allegations against the bank and its officials, made in a public court and broadcast by the claimants in the media, apparently with the assistance of a PR agency retained for that very purpose at the creditors’ expense, were thoroughly unjustified.

“Your Lordship may recall that Mr Grierson of Messrs Lovells, on behalf of the liquidators, appeared on the Today programme on the first morning of the trial to inform the nation that the bank knew Lovells’ telephone number and had only to pick up the phone.

“Litigation like this should never be allowed to happen again. Only last month, in the courtroom immediately above the one in which we stand today, counsel for one of the defendants in the Equitable Life litigation described the abandonment of that claim as the biggest climb-down in English legal history, and as this case has shown on previous occasions, records once set are there to be broken, and it can be asserted with complete certainty that the claimants have today performed the most remarkable and humiliating climb-down ever to have taken place in any piece of English litigation. In fact, the Equitable Life case does not compare.

“While my learned friend [Pollock] said he hoped that no offence would be caused to your Lordship if they did not stay to listen, it might be thought that it speaks eloquently and volumes of the way in which the claimants have conducted this case that they have not even had the courage to sit here in open court and face the consequences of what they have done.”