Litigation Focus: 2009’s top 10 court battles

Corruption, fraud and professional ­negligence are the common themes dominating litigation in the next 12 months.

This could signal the very beginning of the credit crunch fallout. If The Lawyer’s annual top cases survey is anything to go by, 2010 will see more rogue traders battling it out in court, especially with the likes of Bernard Madoff allegedly defrauding financial institutions, including Abbey, out of $50bn (£32.41bn).

Some that did not make it into this year’s top 10 include Digicel v Cable & Wireless, the oligarch ­dispute Cherney v Deripaska and the tax issues affecting WeightWatchers’ group leaders.

For more of the big cases of the forthcoming year, check out litigation pages in the coming weeks, together with The Lawyer’s usual coverage.

Bank charges litigation: Office of Fair Trading v Abbey National & Ors

The Office of Fair Trading’s challenge to the legality and fairness of the banks’ unarranged overdraft charges continues.

The Office of Fair Trading:
In-house team instructed Jonathan Crow QC, 4 Stone Buildings.

Abbey: Wilson Thorburn, Ashurst, instructed Ali Malek QC, 3 Verulam
Barclays: Colin Passmore, Simmons & Simmons, instructed Iain Milligan QC, 20
Essex Street.
Clydesdale Bank: Michael Barnett, Addleshaw Goddard, instructed Richard Salter QC, 3 Verulam Buildings.
HSBC: Simon Orton, Freshfields, instructed Richard Snowden QC, Erskine Chambers
Lloyds TSB: Philip Parish and Andrea Monks, Lovells, instructed Bankim Thanki QC, Fountain Court.
HBOS: Marc Florent, Allen & Overy, instructed Robin Dicker QC, 3-4 South Square
Nationwide: Ewan Brown, Slaughter and May, instructed Geoffrey Vos QC, 3 Stone Buildings
Royal Bank of Scotland Group: James Gardner and Andrew Hughes, Linklaters, instructed Laurence Rabinowitz QC, One Essex Court.
JUDGE: Mr Justice Andrew Smith.

Northern Rock judicial review: SRM Global & Ors v the ­Commissioners of HM ­Treasury

Judicial review being brought by ­former shareholders of Northern Rock against the decision to ­nationalise the bank.
SRM Capital:
John Reynolds, White & Case, instructed David Pannick QC, Blackstone Chambers, and Matthew Collings QC, Maitland Chambers.
RAB Capital: Peter Fitzpatrick, Jonathan Warne and Chris Stewart, Nabarro, instructed David Wolfson, One Essex Court.
Small shareholders’ group: David Greene, Edwin Coe, instructed George Bompass QC, 4 Stone ­Buildings.
HM Treasury:
Treasury Solicitors instructed Lord Anthony Grabiner QC, One Essex Court, together with Philip Sales QC, Clive Lewis QC and Paul Nicholls, 11KBW.

Stone & Rolls Ltd (in liquidation) v Moore Stephens (a firm)

The claimant is pursuing a $94m (£60.94m) negligence claim against its former auditors Moore Stephens using third-party litigation funding. The claimant was granted leave to appeal to the House of Lords on whether auditors are allowed to limit their duty of care to clients where they fail to detect fraud.

Liquidators of Stone & Rolls: Sam ­Eastwood and Richard Blann, ­Norton Rose, instructed Michael Brindle QC and Mark Simpson QC, Fountain Court.
Moore Stephens: Julian Randall and Tim Strong, Barlow Lyde & Gilbert, instructed Jonathan Sumption QC and Tom Adam QC, Brick Court Chambers.
JUDGE: House of Lords.

Financial Services Compensation Scheme v Abbey National ­Treasury Services and NDF ­Administration

Test case of investment misselling claims brought by the Financial ­Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) on behalf of 1,800 investors in relation to precipice bonds sold in the early 2000s.

FSCS: Richard Caird, Denton Wilde Sapte, instructed David Railton QC, Fountain Court.
Abbey National Treasury Services: Stephen Paget-Brown, Travers Smith, instructed David Foxton QC, Essex Court Chambers.
NDF Administration: Tim Boyce, Osborne Clarke, instructed Daniel Toledano, One Essex Court.

Centrica v Accenture

Energy giant Centrica is suing consultancy group Accenture for £182m in damages following an alleged failure of an IT system, known as Project Jupiter, which Accenture built and installed for ­Centrica’s British Gas division.
Centrica: Mark Humphries, ­Linklaters, instructed Sonia Tolaney, 3 Verulam Buildings.
Geoff Nicholas, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, instructed Geoffrey Vos QC, 3 Stone Buildings, and Joe Smouha, Essex Court Chambers.

American Reliance Insurance Company & Ors v Willis

It is claimed that reinsurance broker Willis participated in a dishonest ­conspiracy to dump enormous losses arising from US workers’ compensation business into the London reinsurance market. American Reliance Insurance claims it suffered $220m (£142.61m) in losses as a result.

American Reliance Insurance Company: Toby ;Redgrave, ;Field ;Fisher ­Waterhouse, instructed George ­Leggatt QC, Brick Court Chambers.
Willis: Richard Swallow, Slaughter and May, instructed Christopher Hancock QC, 20 Essex Street.
JUDGE: Mr Justice David Steel.

Fiona Trust and Holding ­Corporation & Ors v Yuri Privalov & Ors
The matter relates to allegations ­dating from 2001 to 2004 of bribery and corruption on a series of shipping and banking transactions entered into with Russian state-owned ­entities including Sovcomflot, which owns Russia’s largest commercial shipping fleet. The claim is for sums in excess of $500m (£324.12m).

Fiona Trust: Stuart Sheppard, Ince & Co, instructed Andrew Popplewell QC, Brick Court Chambers, Philip Jones QC and Dominic Dowley QC, Serle Court.
Louis Flannery, Stephenson Harwood, instructed Graham ­Dunning QC and Simon Brian QC, Essex Court Chambers.
Nikitin: Mike Lax, Lax & Co, ­instructed Steven Berry QC and ­Vernon Flynn QC, Essex Court Chambers.
Clarksons: CMS Cameron McKenna, (counsel TBC).

Trafigura group action: Motto Y & Ors v Trafigura Ltd

A High Court claim has been brought on behalf of 30,000 Ivory Coast claimants against commodities ­trader Trafigura for alleged injuries suffered after they were exposed to toxic chemicals unloaded from tanker Probo Koala in 2006.

The Trafigura claimant group: Martyn Day, Leigh Day & Co, instructed Robert Jay QC, 39 Essex Street, and Joe Smouha QC, Essex Court ­Chambers.
Simon Nurney, Macfarlanes, instructed Edwin Glasgow QC, 39 Essex Street.
Hearing Date: October.
Judge: TBC.

Hammonds v Danilunas & Ors
Hammonds is seeking to recover alleged overdrawings from former partners following the restatement of Hammonds’ accounts. Among other things, the former partners claim that the accounts Hammonds is ­relying on have not been correctly drawn up and are not binding on ­former partners.

Hammonds: Simon Miller, Hammonds, instructed Alan Steinfeld QC, XXIV Old Buildings.
The Addleshaw Group:
Pietro Marino, Addleshaw Goddard, instructed Charles Flint QC, Blackstone ­Chambers.
David Jones: Trefor Jones, Aaron & Partners, instructed Ian Croxford QC, Wilberforce Chambers.
Hearing date: TBC.
Judge: TBC, High Court.

Son of The Accident Group [TAG]: Axa Insurance v Composite Legal Expenses

Insurance giant Axa has brought claims against 89 firms of solicitors for breach of contract and negligence relating to their roles as solicitors on an after-the-event legal expenses insurance scheme known as ­‘Composite Legal Expenses’.
Axa: Richard Spafford and Alex ­Burton, Reed Smith, instructed Charles Hollander QC and Tim Lord QC, Brick Court Chambers.
Defence group:
Sue Plumb and Catherine Shuttleworth, Kennedys, Stephen Reynolds, Reynolds ­Coleman Bradley, Charlotte ­Capstick, Berrymans, Gary Oldroyd, Bond Pearce, instructed Ben Hubble, 4 New Square.
Hearing date: Various.
Judge: TBC.