Withers has been replaced by Hausfeld on a major Libor manipulation and swaps mis-selling claim being brought against the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS).
Property tycoon claimant Stuart Wall launched the high-profile lawsuit against RBS in August 2014, originally instructing Withers commercial litigator Andrew Wass.
This week Wall switched law firms to Hausfeld’s London boss Anthony Maton citing a strategic change in direction for the claim.
The case is one of the largest Libor claims currently before the High Court, understood to be valued above £400m. It will go to its first case management hearing later this year.
RBS has instructed Dentons partner Thomas Leyland for its defence, with Leyland turning to Fountain Court’s Andrew Mitchell QC leading Tamara Oppenheimer and Natasha Bennett.
Wall alleges the bank mis-sold interest rate swap products to his business, Manchester-based Opal Property Group, while attempting to rig the interest rate benchmark Libor, which caused the company to go into administration.
Opal Property Group was the largest private owner of student accommodation prior to it going to administration in spring 2013 following a lengthy restructuring attempt.
Maton has instructed Guildhall Chambers’ Stephen Davies QC, Neil Levy and John Virgo on the claim – the same team he used in Guardian Care Homes v Barclays to secure a reported £40m settlement for the claimant.
Wass had originally instructed Maitland Chambers’ Catherine Newman QC.
The claim is one of a number of big-ticket Libor lawsuits RBS is facing in the High Court.
Property Alliance Group, which is bringing a £30m Libor claim against the bank set to go to trial in June, also changed its legal team last month. Cooke Young & Keidan came off the record to be replaced by Bird & Bird following an application by RBS over alleged issues of conflict.
In a similar move, Enyo Law terminated its contract with the RBS-GRG Business Action Group earlier this month one year after it was instructed as the group’s lawyers. The firm has since been instructed by another group of businesses planning to sue RBS over claims its global restructuring group (GRG) conspired to cause loss to their companies.
The workings of GRG are also central to the Stuart Wall claim. As well as suing over mis-selling and Libor manipulation, the case is expected to throw fresh light on the now disbanded “business support unit”.
GRG is currently the subject of a regulatory investigation by the Financial Conduct Authority with the final report on the probe expected to be published this summer.
RBS is also facing a £4bn claim brought by shareholders over its 2008 rights issue that allegedly contained “material misstatements and omissions”. The claim, likely to be the largest shareholder banking dispute ever to hit the High Court, is set down for March 2017.
The legal line-up:
For the claimant, Stuart Barrie Wall
Guildhall Chambers’ Stephen Davies QC, Neil Levy and John Virgo, instructed by Hausfeld partner Anthony Maton
For the defendant, RBS
Fountain Court’s Andrew Mitchell QC, Tamara Oppenheimer and Natasha Bennett, instructed by Dentons’ partner Thomas Leyland