UBS sues Simmons for negligence

SIMMONS & Simmons will be facing Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP) in a High Court showdown over negligence.

Simmons is being sued by BLP client UBS Bridge Trustees, which acted as the trustee to RHM Outhwaite Children’s Trust. Other claimants are two retired trustees of RHM.

The claimants are seeking up to £300,000 in damages and costs.

The allegations turn on whether or not Simmons’ advice in setting up the trust was negligent.

The trust’s settlor, Richard Outhwaite, who in the 1980s ran one of the Lloyds’ syndicates that underwrote asbestos pollution, contacted Simmons in 1998 to see whether it would be taxadvantageous to move the trust offshore to Jersey. In Simmons’ opinion, it was.

When two UK-based RHM trustees retired, Simmons introduced Outhwaite to UBS Bridge Trustees as their replacement. But because the latter is also Jersey-based, RHM needed more than one trustee to avoid capital gains tax.

The claimants then had to pay nearly £100,000 in back taxes and £14,600 to BLP to rectify the problem.

Managing partner Mark Dawkins said UBS Bridge Trustees remained a valued client of Simmons and that there had been dialogue about the existence of the case.

“The case turns on events 10 years ago concerning a team that we’ve since disbanded,” he said.

Simmons axed its private capital team last July. BLP litigation partner Carol Mulcahy is leading on the case for the claimants, but the firm declined to comment.