One of the former executive directors of Equitable Life, Shaun Kinnis, is understood to have settled his dispute with the society late last week, as settlement negotiations over the ongoing £1.7bn negligence claim against 14 other directors continued.
Neither Kinnis’s solicitor, David Rutter of Metcalfe Copeman & Pettefar, or Equitable Life would comment. However, it is believed to be a ‘drop hands’ settlement in which both sides agree to pay their own costs.
Meanwhile, the rest of the directors and their defence teams return to court today (3 October) for a costs hearing, with cross-examination of expert witnesses scheduled to restart on 10 October.
It appears unlikely that more of the directors will agree to a settlement, with the mood in the defence camp determined and confident.
It is unlikely that Allen & Overy (A&O) and Simmons & Simmons will advise their clients to settle, as both are acting on conditional fee agreements (CFAs) and will receive no fees unless Equitable agrees to pay costs under a settlement or the case is won. A&O is representing six non-executive directors and Simmons is advising one. If the directors win the case, the firms will also be able to apply for a success fee.
The other directors – except Christopher Headdon and Peter Martin who are representing themselves – have paid for legal representation. This varies from non-executive David Wilson’s full defence team of Ince & Co and £2m-a-year silk Jules Sher QC of Wilberforce Chambers to the partner/junior teams employed by other directors. The other firms involved are Baker & McKenzie, Fishburns and Fox Williams.