Equitable drops more claims against directors

Equitable Life yesterday dropped its ‘lost sale’ claim against the 11 former executive and non-executive directors it is still suing for negligence.

Chief executive Charles Thomson said the decision had been taken to “speed up the process and reduce overall costs”.

The ‘lost sale’ claim alleged that the former directors should have attempted to sell Equitable Life earlier than they actually did, thus realising a greater value. Dropping it reduces the total damages to around £650m from £1.7bn.

Four former directors have already settled with the society on a ‘drop hands’ basis, meaning that both sides pay their own costs. Equitable settled with former auditors Ernst & Young in September.

Herbert Smith is acting for Equitable, instructing 20 Essex Street’s Iain Milligan QC. Allen & Overy is acting for six former non-executives, with One Essex Court’s Laurence Rabinowitz QC as counsel. Simmons & Simmons represents another non-executive, instructing Peter Leaver QC, also of One Essex Court. Fishburns, Baker & McKenzie and Fox Williams are also involved. The final defendant, former executive Christopher Headdon, is representing himself.