Judge to lead Barings action group

RETIRED appeal judge Sir Patrick Neill has agreed to lead the SJ Berwin legal team advising the Barings 9.25 per cent Perpetual Noteholders Action Group (BPNAG) in its attempt to recover £100 million lost in the bank's collapse.

Sir Patrick will work with, among others, SJ Berwin consultant Jonathan Stone who was appointed chair of BPNAG to examine options available for recovery, including litigation.

Due to retire as Warden of All Souls College, Oxford, this September, Sir Patrick has led an illustrious career. He was Bar Council chair in 1974-75, rising through the ranks of the bench to become judge of the Court of Appeal of Jersey and Guernsey from 1977-94. Chairmanships include the Press Council (1978-83), the Department of Trade and Industry committee on the regulation of Lloyd's (1986-87) and Council for the Securities Industry (1978-85).

The appointment is not a signal of imminent action, says Stone. “Instant gratification is not our market place,” he says.

However, Stone says a variety of potential targets for action are in the group's sights. These include the Bank of England under its statutory duties as a regulator.

BPNAG is liaising with Barings' administrators Ernst & Young, which instructs Slaughter and May in its own search for recoveries on behalf of all creditors, including the Noteholders.

Stone has asked the administrators whether a claim could be launched over the multi-million pound bonuses paid to Barings directors and staff,

because they were based on false profits.

Another course of action via the administrators could be suing Barings directors on their directors and officers' insurance or fidelity insurance policies, he says.

Stone is discussing the means of recovery with the

Association of British Insurers, some of whose members are institutional Perpetual Noteholders who lost around £25 million.

Allen & Overy partner Andrew Clark is heading a legal team also examining options for action on behalf of Law Debenture Trust, trustees to

the Perpetual Notes, whose interests are in line with individual and institutional members of the BPNAG and the Association of British Insurers.