Rangers liquidators to plough ahead with Collyer Bristow ‘conspiracy’ trial

The liquidators of Rangers have pledged to proceed with conspiracy charges against the old club’s former law firm, Collyer Bristow.

Litigation, which was due to culminate in a High Court trial in the new year, had been on hold while liquidators at BDO assessed the merits of proceeding with the claim.

The action was initially brought by the administrators of of RFC 2012 (the old company), Duff & Phelps partners Paul Clark and David Whitehouse, who alleged that the firm was involved in a “deliberate deception” in relation to former partner Gary Withey’s role in businessman Craig Whyte’s 2011 takeover of the club.

The administrators instructed Taylor Wessing restructuring partners Nick Moser and Neil Smyth to pursue the £25m damages claim. However, BDO will not be using Taylor Wessing for the litigation and has instead instructed Stephenson Harwood for English law and Brodies for Scottish law matters.

In a statement released today, BDO contentious insolvency partners Malcolm Cohen and James Stephen confirmed that they will continue any legal proceedings already initiated by the administrators.

Cohen said: “As joint interim liquidators, our prime objective is to maximise returns to creditors. By investigating the reasons for the company’s failure, we’ll better understand the avenues available to enable the recovery of all possible monies for creditors.

“This is a complex case with many potential areas for us to investigate, which we’ll do thoroughly in accordance with our duties and powers. Our investigations will, of course, include the conduct of those responsible for the financial affairs of the company in previous years.”

Collyer Bristow, which has pledged to “vigorously defend” the accusations, has instructed Clyde & Co partner Richard Harrison and senior associate Nicole McKinnon to defend the claim, with 3VB’s Cyril Kinsky QC and Matthew Hardwick and Wilberforce Chambers’ Ian Croxford QC as counsel.

Withey has labelled the allegations “groundless” and an “outrage” while Collyer Bristow business development director Paul Newhall said the proceedings were paused as the firm is waiting for a response from BDO on security of costs. He said: “Our position remains unchanged and we’ll defend vigorously the claims brought by Duff & Phelps.”

Rangers has since been reformed as a ‘newco’ and announced its intentions to float with a £20m IPO. Field Fisher Waterhouse and Travers Smith are instructed (11 October 2012).

The trial is due to start next year.

See: Rangers v Collyer Bristow: The legal story so far (30 April 2012).