Oil giant and twenty-six insurers, including clients Equitas, Allianz and Scor, turn the tables on BLG

Professional negligence specialist and doyen of the defendant insurance industry Barlow Lyde & Gilbert (BLG) has found itself on the receiving end of a £3m claim brought by oil giant BP and 26 insurance companies, including a number of clients.

BLG is named as the co-defendant in the negligence claim alongside Maclay Murray & Spens. BLG is more commonly to be found acting for defendants in negligence claims, including large solicitors’ firms and insurers.

BP and the insurance companies, including BLG clients Equitas, Allianz and Scor, are suing the two solicitors’ firms for the allegedly negligent handling of a shipping insurance claim. That was made following a 1990 incident in which a ship owned by Bahamian company Chevron Tankers was wrenched free from its moorings by high winds, resulting in damage to four loading arms at the jetty (owned by BP) to which the vessel was berthed.

In the claim form, which was filed in February this year, the claimants allege that BLG and Maclays failed to identify properly the owners and charterers of the vessel and failed to launch proceedings against them within the limitation date of five years. The claim also says that BLG did not supervise Maclays, which was hired to deal with the Scottish aspects of the original case.

Shepherd & Wedderburn partner Gordon Deane has been instructed by the claimants, with John Powell QC of Four New Square as counsel.

BLG has instructed Lovells partner Michael Seymour, with Hailsham Chambers’ Michael Pooles QC. The firm said: “The matter is in the hands of our lawyers.”

A spokesman for Maclays would only say that the matter was in the hands of the firm’s insurers.