In a radical departure, SJ Berwin has adopted US-style marketing in an attempt to generate litigation clients by mailing UK institutional investors who may have suffered significant losses on the US stock market following financial restatements
To do this, the firm has linked up with Washington-based Hagens Berman and the two firms are offering to carry out litigation on a contingency-fee basis. While Hagens Berman will get the lion's share of the work as all litigation will take place in the US, SJ Berwin will receive a percentage of the contingency fee earned from any clients they generate. Because all litigation will take place in the US, SJ Berwin is able to charge on a contingency-fee basis, a charging structure banned in the UK. SJ Berwin sent a letter on 10 October to a wide range of investors and fund managers, which said: "We understand that your organisation may have been an investor in one or more US corporations that suffered severe falls in their stock value following accounting restatements." After listing 56 corporations that have been affected, including such giants as Enron and WorldCom, the letter said: "There may be a means for you to recover compensation for losses made by you in this and similar investments." Hagens Berman is well known for representing plaintiffs in class actions and multi-party large-scale complex litigation. Hagens Berman and SJ Berwin have worked together previously, a relationship that was born out of the fact that SJ Berwin consultant David Schapiro's son is a partner at Hagens Berman. However, SJ Berwin's head of litigation Tim Taylor said the relationship was very informal. "We've got a lot of big UK pension funds who have invested lots of other people's money in these companies," said Taylor. But he added that while US investors have been very active in getting involved in individual or class action litigation, UK investors have been more reticent.