Northern Rock showdown: It’s Grabiner vs Beloff and Pannick

Northern Rock showdown: It's Grabiner vs Beloff and PannickThe Government has lined up One Essex Court star Lord Grabiner QC to defend the action being brought by a group of small Northern Rock shareholders as well as hedge funds SRM and RAB Capital.

The Government is also being advised by Slaughter and May partner Elizabeth Barrett. SRM’s lawyer John Reynolds at White & Case has instructed David Pannick QC and Claire Weir of Blackstone Chambers, as well as Matthew Collings QC of Maitland Chambers.

The smaller shareholders, who are represented by Edwin Coe partner David Greene, will be represented by George Bompass QC of 4 Stone Buildings.

RAB Capital’s lawyer, Nabarro partner Peter Fitzpatrick, has instructed Michael Beloff QC and Iain Steele of Blackstone Chambers and David Wolfson of One Essex Court.

As reported on yesterday (8 May) SRM and a representative group of 10 individual shareholders have applied to launch a judicial review and are about to be joined by RAB Capital.

Greene said that, if permission for judicial review is granted, it is likely that the trial would get under way within around 12 months.

The group of 10 he is representing includes former employees of the Northern Rock, pensioners and those who held accounts at the bank when it was demutualised.

“Small shareholders were in a particularly vulnerable position on nationalisation of the bank,” he said. “They acquired shares in good faith with the encouragement of the Government to invest for their future.

“They believed that a high street bank that was properly regulated was secure for their savings and investments. The nationalisation and the Government’s attempts to ensure the lowest possible compensation have left many with a very large hole in their savings and pensions.”