The Melton Medes pensions fraud trial has settled after two weeks in the High Court.
The lawyer-intensive trial was expected to last up to 10 weeks, at an expected cost of £2 million. The litigation, which has rumbled on for several years, is thought to have cost around £5 million in legal fees.
The case centred on litigation by seven pension holders alleging breach of contract against private company Melton Medes Group, its owner Natha Ram Puri, fellow director James Edward Philpotts, subsidiary companies including wholly-owned Melton Medes Pension Trustees and two Imperial Group pension trust companies (The Lawyer 2 May).
An action by the Securities and Investments Board (SIB), running simultaneously in the court and alleging breach of regulatory rules, is also thought to have settled.
The beneficiaries, representing 500 pensioners, alleged that Melton Medes failed to properly repay cash taken from the pension funds of two subsidiary businesses that it acquired from Imperial Group in the mid-1980s.
Actions against the main defendants – Melton Medes Group and its owner, Puri – are stayed pending compliance with a Tomlin Order.
The order requires an independent fund with trustees to be established and for cash to be pumped in by the main defendants.
Action against all other defendants is discontinued. These include the Imperial Group trusts, which had always denied any involvement in wrong-doing. They had lodged contribution notices, signalling they would sue other defendants if it proved necessary.
Lawyers will now hammer out the mechanism of a trust deed and its rules of oper-
Denton Hall acted for SIB, DJ Freeman for Melton Medes and related individuals, Osborne Clarke for the Imperial trusts, with Dibb Lupton Broomhead and Hand & Co for the beneficiaries and judicial trustees, Robson Rhodes.
Court-appointed Robson Rhodes took over the beneficiaries’ case when funding from the Graphical, Paper and Media Union ran out.