B&M’s, Linklaters’ F1 litigation to reach High Court in January

The negligence claim being brought against Baker & McKenzie (B&M) and Linklaters by two Formula 1 (F1) racing teams has been set down for a trial in January.

As reported exclusively by The Lawyer in December 2004, Williams Grand Prix Engineering and McLaren Racing launched the claim over advice given by the two firms regarding an agreement with F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone.

The claim states that B&M and Linklaters acted negligently in negotiating and preparing the agreement, with the result that the teams were not entitled to, and did not receive, proceeds from the sale of F1’s commercial and media rights.

Under the ‘Concorde Agreement’, all F1 teams receive a share of the revenue from the sale of commercial rights, which generates approximately £400m annually.

In 1999, Ecclestone sold a 75 per cent stake in SLEC Holding, the parent company of the sport’s governing body, Formula One Holdings.

Morgan Grenfell Private Equity bought the stake in two slices for a total of £812m, but the two teams say that, due to B&M’s and Linklaters’ handling of the agreement, they missed out on their share of the proceeds.

The case will now be heard in the High Court next year, with the trial beginning on 16 January. McLaren and Williams have instructed Pinsent Masons professional negligence partner David Lancaster, and it is understood that Blackstone Chambers head Ian Mill QC will be lead counsel.

B&M was unavailable for comment and Linklaters declined to comment.