Withers scores High Court victory in Keydata founder’s JR against FSA

Withers has won a judicial review case against the FSA after the High Court ruled that an email exchange between the firm’s client Stewart Ford and his former lawyers at Irwin Mitchell should be bound by legal privilege.

Withers partner Harvey Knight instructed Hodge Malek QC of 4-5 Gray’s Inn to represent Keydata founder Stewart in his legal battle against the FSA.

The regulator instructed Fountain Court’s Bankim Thanki QC to respond to the claim.

Ford launched his action in March arguing that the FSA had no right to see email exchanges between him and lawyers at Irwin Mitchell because he had jointly retained the firm with Keydata in December 2007 after the FSA launched an investigation into the company.

The two disputed documents were handed to the regulator by Keydata’s administrators at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) after they were appointed to the investment company in June 2009.

In his judgment Mr Justice Burnett said: “I’m satisfied that the claimant has established by evidence that he enjoyed joint legal privilege with Keydata in those two communications. It is accepted that PwC’s waiver of privilege on behalf of the company did not impact on the claimant’s privilege.

“It follows that the FSA may not rely upon the content of those communications in the regulatory proceedings against Keydata or the executives.”