Equitable settles: E&Y silk Hapgood slams “pointless” claim

Equitable Life has this morning settled its £2.6 b claim against former auditors Ernst & Young by discontinuing its claim, with each side left to pay its own costs.

Ernst & Young’s barrister Mark Hapgood QC of Brick Court Chambers, described Equitable’s move to settle as the “biggest climb-down in English legal history”.

“At the end of this very long, costly and utterly pointless piece of litigation, there is a salutary lesson to be learnt for those thinking of suing auditors,” Hapgood said.

“Bringing a hugely inflated claim for blood-curdling amounts of money, in the hope that the sheer scale of the claim will force the defendant into making a substantial cash payment, is misconceived,” he said.

Barlow Lyde & Gilbert head of commercial litigation Clare Canning instructed Hapgood.

Equitable Life’s chairman Vanni Treves said the settlement came with “great sadness and frustration”.

Herbert Smith instructing Iain Milligan QC of 20 Essex Street and 4 Stone Buildings’ Robert Miles QC for Equitable.

Allen & Overy instructed One Essex Court’s Laurence Rabinowitz QC for six former non-executive directors.

There are also a number of firms and barristers acting for the other directors.