The forthcoming year will see some of the largest value trials to date hit the High Court. If 2013 was the year that credit crunch litigation broke through the surface, 2014 will take financial disputes to an all-new level.
In total 14 of The Lawyer’s Top 20 Cases are valued above £100m, with two claims worth more than £1bn. The largest battle of the year is one that all taxpayers will take an interest in – the £3bn group litigation claim against RBS and its former management team.
The High Court justices will hear, among other things, a £1.5bn case spinning out of the 2012 battle between the late Boris Berezovsky and the estate of the late Arkady ‘Badri’ Patarkatsishvili; two major follow-on competition damages actions – the first to be heard by a London court; big ticket financial crisis cases against RBS, Depfa Bank and MasterCard.
Claims relating to the crash from JPMorgan, UBS and the Bank of St Petersburg are also featured alongside three major professional negligence bouts, with Clifford Chance Germany, Nabarro and Weil Gotshal & Manges all named as defendants.
How the profession is insured will also come under the judicial microscope in a battle concerning the refusal of insurer Travelers to pay out on a claim. And then there is that mammoth £300m claim against the Serious Fraud Office being pursued by the Tchenguiz brothers.
Firms in the dock
Clifford Chance is one of three firms to be shunted into the judicial spotlight after its advice to Berlin’s public transport provider BVG was called into question. It has turned to Clyde & Co partner Richard Harrison and Essex Court’s David Foxton QC to defend the case.
The company is accused by JP Morgan of having spread risk by insuring a deal through a collateralised debt obligation (CDO) in 2007.
As with the myriad of legal challenges surrounding the Libor interest rate and the alleged manipulation of it, CDOs, how they were formed and whether they were legal, will be examined by the courts.
BVG is pointing the finger at Clifford Chance in response to the claim by JP Morgan. It has issued claims for breach of duty against the firm.
Nabarro, meanwhile, is being called into question over its handling of a litigation for a former client, and Weil faces claims relating to the takeover of an ice cream company that went sour.
Brick Court Chambers is expecting a stellar year, with the set making 23 appearances across the Top 20 Cases. Among others Tim Lord QC, Mark Howard QC, Simon Salzedo QC, Mark Hapgood QC, and Mark Hoskins QC are all involved in mammoth cases that will ensure the set has an advocate in court almost every day of the court year.
One Essex Court, Fountain Court, Essex Court Chambers and Maitland have also picked up a swathe of big ticket litigations between them. Blackstone Chambers’ Dinah Rose QC will also be back on her feet. First up, she is instructed for Guardian journalist Rob Evans in his battle to see correspondence between Prince Charles and the Government. Next on the agenda is a 45-day trial against One Essex Court heavyweight Laurence Rabinowitz QC and Brick Court’s Danny Jowell QC in a major competition damages case.
These are the mega cases that attract the country’s leading barristers and solicitors. They underline the fact that this year is shaping up to be a vintage one for the courts.
To access the full list click here: The top cases of 2014
Additional reporting by Kate Beioley and Joanne Harris