Clydes litigator exits for Signature citing ‘RBS litigation conflicts’

Clyde & Co litigator Julian Connerty has exited for Signature Litigation over conflict issues related to RBS’s £4bn shareholder battle.

Connerty told The Lawyer the principal shareholder group in the mammoth litigation – which is bringing £1.2bn of claims against the bank – approached Clydes for representation twice but was turned down by the firm.

Connerty said the firm turned the work down as it was “conflicted because of major clients that are insurers for RBS and other banks”.

The group, named the Royal Bank of Scotland Shareholder Action Group, has changed its counsel on two occasions, from Bird & Bird to Fladgate late last year, and then to Signature Litigation in August.

The decision to end its relationship with Bird & Bird and Fladgate is understood to be due to disagreements over funding.

“In my last 18 months at Clydes I turned down two or three big possibilities because I was acting for insurance clients who didn’t want to see us on the wrong side of a claim,” he said.

He said he introduced the claimant group to Signature and decided to move soon after.

Connerty is now a litigation and arbitration partner at Signature. Founding partner Graham Huntley said: “His experience is a perfect fit for the firm, especially in relation to our complex civil fraud offering.”

The Signature group is bringing claims against RBS over its 2008 rights issue alongside three other claimant groups represented by Stewarts Law, Leon Kaye and Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan. There is understood to be more than 30,000 claimants involved totalling £4bn of claims.

The groups allege the rights issue was defective and contained “material misstatements and omissions”.

Herbert Smith Freehills is representing the bank. In September The Lawyer revealed the firm’s costs estimate had more than doubled in recent months and now sits at £90m.

Clydes has lost a run of corporate partners in recent months including insurance partner Andy Tromans who moved to Wilkie Farr & Gallagher, head of corporate Philip Rogers who left for Brown Rudnick, and corporate insurance partner Geraldine Quirk who left for Berwin Leighton Paisner

A spokesperson for Clyde & Co said: “We can confirm that litigation partner Julian Connerty has left the firm. We wish him well with the next phase of his career.”

The legal line up

For claimants, the Royal Bank of Scotland Shareholders Action group

3 Verulam Buildings’ Jonathan Nash QC, Peter de Vernueil Smith and Ian Higgins, instructed by Signature Litigation partner Graham Huntley.

For claimants, the Stewarts Law group

3 Verulam Buildings’ Andrew Onslow QC, Adam Kramer and Scott Ralston, instructed by Stewarts Law partners Clive Zietman, Keith Thomas and Fiona Gillett

For the claimants, the Leon Kaye group

3 Verulam Buildings’ Michael Lazarus, instructed by Leon Kaye partner Leon Kaye 

For the claimants, the Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan group

One Essex Court’s Laurence Rabinowitz QC, Erskine Chambers’ Alex Barden and One Essex Court’s Maximillian Schlote, instructed by Quinn Emanuel partners Sue Prevezer QC and Martin Davies

For the defendants, RBS 

7KBW’s Jonathan Gaisman QC, Serle Court’s David Blayney QC and Simon Hattan, 3 Verulam Buildings’ Sonia Tolaney QC and Fountain Court’s James McClelland, instructed by Herbert Smith Freehills partners Simon Clarke, Adam Johnson and Kirsten Massey