Equitable focuses on £2bn loss of sale claim

The Equitable Life trial grew more complicated last week as Equitable’s legal team decided against amending its claim for a sixth time, instead deciding to pursue the majority of the £2.6bn action.

Last Monday (27 June) Equitable’s counsel, 20 Essex Street head Iain Milligan QC, dropped an application for amendment. The society has already amended its negligence claim against former auditor Ernst & Young (E&Y) five times since the trial began in April.

The drama in Court 76 continued last Wednesday (29 June), when Milligan announced that Equitable was pursuing its “lost sale” claim against E&Y, accounting for £2bn of the total monetary value claimed. Equitable contends that E&Y breached its duty as auditor, and so caused the society considerable losses.

E&Y’s lead counsel Mark Hapgood QC of Brick Court Chambers hit back at Equitable’s decision. He told the court: “It is only the lost sale claim that enables the society to go on saying to the press, week after week, that they are claiming and inferentially may recover £2,000m [sic] from Ernst & Young, and it is quite probably the thought of the embarrassment of having to climb down from that figure that is keeping the case alive.”

Hapgood added that E&Y will seek indemnity costs if it successfully defends the action.

Herbert Smith partner Charles Plant is acting for Equitable, while Barlow Lyde & Gilbert’s Clare Canning represents E&Y.

The trial continues.