Clifford Chance settles Excalibur professional negligence dispute

A professional negligence claim brought against Clifford Chance over the high-profile Excalibur dispute has ended with the magic circle firm settling out of court for an undisclosed sum.

Third party-litigation funders who bankrolled a $1.6bn claim brought by former Clifford Chance client Excalibur Ventures in 2013 launched the professional negligence claim last December following defeat in the High Court.

Funders Psari Holdings and Adonis Lemos instructed Withers partner Christopher Coffin to bring the claim. It followed a ruling that the funders would be liable for £23m in indemnity costs in the Excalibur case.

Withers confirmed the professional negligence claim had been resolved but said terms of the settlement were confidential.

Clifford Chance declined to comment.

The professional negligence claim was the second Clifford Chance has faced in the last two years. In January 2014 the firm was joined to a suit brought by JP Morgan against German transport provider BVG, but the £130m case settled after seven weeks in court.

The Excalibur dispute

Excalibur sued Texas Keystone and Gulf Keystone several years ago over their interest in rights to exploit and develop petroleum fields in Iraqi Kurdistan. The case went through a number of stages before reaching the High Court. In July 2011 Mrs Justice Gloster halted Excalibur from launching arbitration proceedings against the defendants in New York by granting an anti-arbitration injunction in London

In June 2012, the defendants successfully applied for specific disclosure from Excalibur of documents primarily bearing upon the claimant’s ability to raise funds for both the concession rights and to pursue the case. This included detail of its financial capability to participate in the oil concession and third party funding arrangements for the litigation.

The defendants followed this in January 2013 with an application for additional security for their costs of the Commercial Court proceedings. In September 2013 Clarke LJ threw out Excalibur’s claim before making the indemnity costs ruling last October.

Coffin represented two of the third-party funders behind Excalibur’s claim, Psari Holdings and Adonis Lemos. The  professional negligence claim was on behalf of Lemos and his family.

The funders were dragged into the litigation after Excalibur refused to adhere to a court order demanding it pay out £5.6m in indemnity costs on top of the £17.5m in costs already paid to the winning defendants.