Clifford Chance has failed in its attempt to have Libor rate-fixing claims against banking giant Barclays thrown out, setting the stage for what is one the most hotly anticipated banking disputes to spin out of the recession.
Clifford Chance partner Ian Moulding instructed 3 Verulam Buildings’ Adrian Beltrami QC to lead defence of the case, which is being brought by Guardian Care Homes.
In what is perceived as a David and Goliath case, the claimant has instructed litigation boutique Cooke Young & Keidan (CYK) solicitor Philip Young to lead the fight for the Wolverhampton-based business.
In a pre-trial hearing on Monday Brick Court’s Tim Lord QC, instructed by CYK, argued that the claim should be amended to include allegations of ‘false and fraudulent representation’ against the bank.
Adrian Beltrami QC, instructed for Barclays, countered that such a claim stood no real prospect of success and should be dismissed. The claimant, he argued, could not specify how the Libor rate was set.
Allowing the case to proceed to full trial Mr Justice Flaux said: “[It] just seems perfectly obvious… that the people responsible for giving those instructions [to manipulate Libor] must have known customers were being misled.”
A case management hearing has been set down for 13 November in which CYK will apply for further disclosure from the bank. At the same time the court is expected to set hearing dates for a full trial in early 2013.
A statement from CYK said: “Guardian Care Homes are delighted with the outcome of yesterday’s hearing. Barclays opposed the inclusion of the fraud claim, but their position was entirely rejected by the judge, who said that these allegations are fully arguable at trial.”
Guardian Care Homes had initially launched its £38m claim for alleged mis-selling of two interest rate swaps in 2007 and 2008. The operator of 27 care homes in the UK had bought the swaps to refinance two loans with Barclays.
The bank originally turned to Matthew Arnold & Baldwin to lead its defence of the case as the firm has a general mandate for Barclays’ work on mis-selling claims brought against it. In September the bank instructed Clifford Chance to take the lead role on the case (14 September 2012).