Litigation round-up

Last week Morgan Stanley was ordered to pay e30m (£20.7m) to Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy (LVMH) for publishing artificially negative investment advice on the luxury goods giant to boost the fortunes of its rival Gucci. The merchant bank is set to appeal. The case was heard before the Paris Commercial Court. Morgan Stanley was represented by Gide Loyrette Nouel and LVMH by Jeantet & Associés.

Last month Provimi settled its long-running competition dispute with Aventis. It centred on alleged breaches of Article 81 of the European Treaty and the response of domestic courts. The case was due to be heard at the Court of Appeal on 26 January. Provimi was represented by Christopher Carr QC (One Essex Court), instructed by Linklaters, and Aventis by Tom de la Mare and Brian Kennelly (Blackstone), instructed by Ashurst (Arundel McDougall).

A 12-week inquiry will start tomorrow (20 January) into the building of enough houses in Stevenage, Hertfordshire, to increase the population by 16 per cent. Hertfordshire County Council is contesting on the grounds that it wants to preserve green sites. Stevenage Borough Council, hosting the inquiry, is in favour. The West Stevenage Consortium is represented by Robin Purchas QC (2 Harcourt Buildings), Stevenage Borough Council by Tim Straker QC (4-5 Gray’s Inn Square), Hertfordshire County Council by Christopher Katkowski QC (Landmark) and protestors by Megan Thomas (Landmark).

Today (19 January) is day six of a 32-day construction negligence trial, one of the largest of 2004. It is based on allegations that an Aldi Stores superstore was built on land used as a waste depository by a chemical company. Defendant Holmes Building is in turn suing various building contractors and engineering companies. The case is being heard at the Technology and Construction Court. Holmes Building is represented by Hugh Tomlinson QC (Matrix), instructed by Walker Morris; seven other parties are represented by Patrick Lawrence QC and Michael Soole QC (Four New Square), Michael Douglas QC (4 Pump Court), Marcus Taverner QC, Vivian Ramsay QC and Paul Darling QC (Keating) and Andrew Bartlett QC (Crown Office).

Preparations are underway for one of the largest offshore battles of 2004. It involves a small Bermudian company and Russian oil and banking tycoon Mikhail Fridman. IPOC, a fund specialising in investing in initial public offering opportunities in emerging markets, claims that it has the rights to a 25 per cent stake in MegaFon, Russia’s third-largest mobile phone company, and that this has been snatched from it by Fridman’s conglomerate, the Alfa Group. No date has yet been set for a full trial in the British Virgin Islands. IPOC is represented by Martin Mann QC (XXIV Old Buildings), instructed by Winston & Strawn, and Alfa by Stephen Smith QC (New Square), instructed by Lovells.