Judge surprised by collapse of BCCI trial

It has emerged that neither Mr Justice Tomlinson nor the Bank of England were aware that the liquidators of the Bank of Credit & Commerce International (BCCI) were planning to discontinue their 12-year claim until it was revealed in Court this morning.

The news that the case had collapsed prompted the Bank of England’s lead counsel, Nicholas Stadlen QC, to say: “It has always been clear that this case was hopelessly misconceived and doomed to failure.”

The announcement by Essex Court Chambers’ Gordon Pollock QC, for liquidators Deloitte, that the Chancellor of the High Court had ruled that the case should be discontinued came at the start of proceedings in Court 73 this morning (2 November).

After telling the court that the liquidators were to serve notice of discontinuance, Pollock continued: “I would simply ask your Lordship to rise so that we may clear our stuff away and leave, since we in fact have no more instructions, we are no longer instructed to stay here.”

After a short adjournment, the court returned to hear Stadlen make a statement about the case. Stadlen told the court that the Bank had expected for “some time” that the trial might be discontinued, and accordingly he was able to deliver a scripted statement which criticised the claimants’ handling of the case.

Stadlen said: “It is time for the spotlight to shift to the other side of the court and for scrutiny to be brought to bear on the manner in which this hopeless case has been prolonged, long after its utter hopelessness was apparent for all to see.”

He called on Tomlinson J to register the court’s disapproval of the way the case has been handled, and said that the Bank would be applying for indemnity costs.

Pollock did not return to court to hear Stadlen’s address. Instead Essex Court junior Nathan Pillow was present on the liquidators’ behalf, but had not been given instructions to respond.