Parmalat swaps QCs for E&Y hostilities

Parmalat has dramatically ditched its leading counsel William Trower QC for its Cayman Islands spat with Ernst & Young (E&Y), replacing him with the UK’s number one insolvency barrister Gabriel Moss QC.

The bankrupt food company’s special administrator Enrico Bondi personally intervened to have Moss brought in.

Gabriel is up against Michael Crystal QC, his arch rival and fellow member of premier insolvency set 3/4 South Square, where Trower is also a tenant.

The battle between these two doyens of the insolvency bar makes the Caymans case between Parmalat and Crystal’s clients E&Y and several bondholders even more tantalising.

Bondi is seeking to have E&Y replaced by PricewaterhouseCoopers, the liquidators appointed to handle Parmalat’s bankruptcy elsewhere in the world.

Those behind the decision to appoint Trower were Parmalat’s lawyers, Linklaters’ Italian ally Gianni Origoni & Partners, and Parmalat’s Cayman lawyer Alan Turner of Turner & Roulstone. Behind the scenes, Weil Gotshal & Manges is also involved.

However, Bondi himself has intervened to replace Trower with Moss, a deputy High Court judge and senior to the formidable but more junior Trower, who took silk in 2001.

Trower was due to appear on 21 January in the Grand Court of the Caymans against Crystal for the launch of Parmalat’s case against E&Y. That was delayed because Turner & Roulstone, which had just replaced Maples and Calder as Parmalat’s Cayman lawyers, had not had enough time to prepare.

A new trial date has been set for 16 February.