Herbert Smith joins Barings writ-slinging

Herbert Smith has entered the litigation fray over collapsed bank Barings.

The firm’s litigation partner David Gold has issued writs involving more than £30 million on behalf of building society Abbey National against Barings administrator Ernst & Young and Dutch bank Internationale Nederlanden Groep (ING) in relation to a former joint venture.

Lovell White Durrant litigation partner Myfanwy Badge is handling the action for ING, which refused to comment.

Slaughter and May litigation partner Deborah Finkler, also working on action launched last week against Barings auditors Coopers & Lybrand and Deloitte & Touche, is handling the building society’s action.

Abbey National was involved in a joint venture with Barings, Abbey National Baring Derivatives. It was set up in 1993 to provide derivatives to counterparties – buildings societies and banks – with a joint contract running until 1998.

The building society reopened the business as Abbey National Financial Products soon after the Barings collapse.

Meanwhile the administrators sold Barings’ side of the contract on to ING, which the society claims it had no authority to do. Abbey National also claims ING did not meet certain terms under the contract.

The administrators see themselves merely as middlemen in the case and ING as the focus of the action, said sources.

Finkler said of the writ against the administrators: “It’s a technical legal way of ensuring the administrators make sure that ING performs its obligations on behalf of creditors of Barings Group.”

The writ against ING is served under the name Baring Brothers, the company formed after ING took over the Baring business.