Middle Temple hit by Barings fall

THE BAR'S Middle Temple Inn of Court has lost assets worth around u100,000 in the wake of the Barings collapse.

The loss could make a dent in Middle Temple's income. Invested assets with all the Inns contribute an income stream, which covers running costs and overheads including scholarships and expensive upkeep of their old properties.

The Inn is still assessing its loss. Brigadier Charles Wright, Middle Temple's under treasurer, says: “We have lost some money. The whole thing is under consideration at the moment. We are deciding with our advisers what further action needs to be taken.”

The Inn is consulting its stockbroker NCL, which is responsible for managing the assets. Wright says the Inn has not yet consulted its solicitors, Park Nelson Thompson Quarrell.

The lost assets were in the form of preference shares in Barings plc, the holding company which is now in liquidation after Dutch bank ING bought out the Barings operating businesses.

Preference shareholders come low in the pecking order of creditors in any insolvency, with senior creditors such as banks ranking above them. In the Barings case, preference shareholders appear to be completely out of pocket and some, including both institutions and wealthy individuals, are already seeking legal advice on possible compensation.

“We don't know what ING is going to do about the preference shareholders. They have not contacted us,” says Wright.

Middle Temple is currently contacting similar organisations, such as schools, that may also have lost out on Barings.

“We would be very keen to avoid any possibility of litigation,” says Wright.

None of the other three Inns have suffered similar losses.

*The u117 million Solicitors Staff Pension Fund has reassured its pensioners that its assets, some of which had been in the care of Barings Asset Management, are now safe following ING's acquisition.