Penningtons Manches’ dispute resolution team pursues two group action claims

The Penningtons Manches commercial dispute resolution team is currently pursuing two high-profile group action litigation claims relating to negligent advice given by solicitors.

One of the claims relates to the role of a London-based firm of solicitors transferring money as part of a 19-year Ponzi scheme, while the other concerns a large number of victims of a failed holiday development in southern Italy.

A £1.2m action has been brought against solicitors Barrington Charles Edwards and Company, which is alleged to have breached its fiduciary duty and client trust by making payments into third-party accounts used in a south London Ponzi fraud that ran from 1991–2010.

Rienzie ‘Joe’ Silva was found guilty of defrauding elderly investors in a Ponzi scheme from which he earned at least £4.3m through his Croydon-based mortgage business Abbey Brokers. However, with Silva’s firm now insolvent, Barrington Charles Edwards is now being pursued by Penningtons Manches on behalf of 10 claimants for the actions of its partner, Gerald Scott.

Meanwhile, more than 100 clients have instructed the team with regard to the widely reported Jewel of the Sea holiday development in the south of Italy. The project in the region of Calabria was abandoned in 2008 following police intervention over allegations of money laundering and, subsequently, many investors have been unable to claim back the initial deposits made to lawyer Gabriele Giambrone.

Penningtons Manches is currently suing the struck-off Italian lawyer, who took receipt of around 50 per cent of the deposit payments. If this is action is successful, it is also then likely that separate proceedings will have to be commenced against Giambrone’s professional indemnity insurers, AIG UK, on the basis that the cover it provided is wider than the very restrictive basis it is now claiming. This will almost certainly mean many of the clients are potentially locked into litigation for years to come.

Partner David Niven is leading the team on both of these group actions.