Kentridge answers Sinclair Roche plea

The firm currently owes some £18m in damages and costs.

Kentridge was brought in to lead Sinclair Roche’s team of Mark Cran QC (Brick Court) and Rebecca Sabben-Clare (7 King’s Bench Walk) in its application for leave to appeal Mr Justice Morison’s decision last August.

However, Kentridge was unsuccessful in his challenge to the finding that Sinclair Roche’s former senior partner Harvey Williams lied and thus breached his duty to his client, Middle East shipowner Somatra. Kentridge did not dispute that Joe Atkinson, now a partner at Stephenson Harwood, which last year merged with Sinclair Roche, provided evidence at the expense of the truth.

Sinclair Roche can now challenge Morison’s finding that as a result of Somatra’s loss of confidence in Williams it was forced to settle with its underwriters (which it was in dispute with) for far less than it could have got. Kentridge argued last Thursday (27 March) in the High Court that a “settlement was always on the cards”, contradicting Morison’s finding that Somatra had been “panicked into a settlement”.

Kentridge claimed there was evidence, not accounted for by Morison, showing that Somatra could not have got any more than it did because it was insured only for the amount it eventually received.

Sinclair Roche can also appeal the finding that Williams breached his duty at a meeting on 29 March 1994 during which Williams did not answer questions, made faces and fiddled with pencils.

Last week Somatra also won permission to argue that its damages should have been higher because, if it had not been for Sinclair Roche, it could have taken its underwriters to court and won.

Ince & Co is instructing the applicants, while Christopher Symons QC (3 Verulam Buildings) and Mark Cannon (Four New Square), instructed by Herbert Smith, are acting for Somatra.