B&M and Linklaters stave off Formula 1 negligence action

Baker & McKenzie (B&M) and Linklaters have settled the negligence claims brought against them by Formula 1 (F1) teams McLaren and Williams less than a month before the trial.

The cases, which were due to be heard together, were set down for trial starting today (16 January). Linklaters settled with Williams in late December, while B&M reached agreement with McLaren last week.

In December 2004, The Lawyer revealed that the teams had launched negligence claims over advice given by the two firms regarding an agreement with F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone.

The teams claimed that the firms had been negligent in negotiating and drafting the agreement. They said the negligent advice meant that in 1999 the teams missed out on proceeds from an £812m sale of a stake in SLEC Holding, the parent company of governing body Formula One Holdings.

Under the ‘Concorde Agreement’, all F1 teams are entitled to a share of the revenue from the sale of commercial rights, which generate around £400m each year.

B&M instructed Michael Robin and David Simon of niche insurance firm Robin Simon, with Wilberforce Chambers’ Jonathan Seitler QC as counsel. Clyde & Co partner Conrad Walker acted for Linklaters, instructing David Railton QC of Fountain Court Chambers.

Williams and McLaren instructed Pinsent Masons partner David Lancaster, with Blackstone Chambers’ Ian Mill QC and Fountain Court’s Mark Simpson as counsel.

B&M and Linklaters both declined to comment. Williams and McLaren did not return calls for comment.

The terms of the settlements are confidential.