RBS dumps Herbies for Links on Highland case

Herbert Smith’s litigation team has been kicked off a $100m (£66m) dispute for RBS, with the bank turning to traditional counsel Linklaters mid-way through the action.

Herbert Smith banking litigation head Damien Byrne Hill was leading the team advising RBS on its legal battle with US hedge fund Highland Capital Management. The case relates to a collateralised debt obligation (CDO) funded by RBS and issued by Cooke Young & Keidan client Highland prior to the 2008 financial crisis.

RBS was criticised over its conduct in the case by Mr Justice Burton, who handed down his last judgment in the ongoing matter last December. Although he found in favour of the bank, Highland was ordered to pay just £18m of the £36m claimed and costs were not awarded in RBS’ favour.

Burton J accused RBS of carrying out a “deception” that allowed it to take advantage of accounting rules when recalling a loan the fund used to issue the CDO.

So far there have been three court hearings, but appeals from both sides have been lodged against Burton J’s ruling. Highland has launched proceedings in Texas relating to allegations of fraud by RBS and the bank has instructed ­Linklaters to go to the High Court to get an injunction preventing the fund from launching further cases.

According to a source close to the case: “What started off as a debt collection claim has ended up being a nightmare for RBS.”

All the firms involved declined to comment.