Collyer Bristow’s day in court

As any military strategist will tell you, it’s never easy fighting a battle on two fronts. Collyer Bristow will ruefully agree.

The firm is fighting a £50m claim from investors hungry for compensation after they lost out on ’innovator schemes’ the firm allegedly promoted. It’s also locked in a dispute with the insurance broker that arranged its cover (see story).

To cut a long story relatively short, the dispute arises out of a claim against Collyer Bristow which was the joint defendant in the £50m Innovator One case. The firm is accused of promoting investment initiatives as tax advantage vehicles, but the claimants – around 500 of them – are now saying the vehicles were frauds.

And, after discovering that its insurance won’t cover the bill if it loses, Collyer Bristow launched a claim against broker Lockton Companies International, saying it was negligent when it arranged the insurance.

Collyer Bristow claims a loss in this case would leave it bankrupt, but failed in its bid for an expedited hearing to clarify the situation. It and Lockton will go to court next spring (see story).

To be sure, the dispute lacks the sexy, billion-pound sums and intrigue that Oligarch Boris Berezovsky’s suit against Roman Abramovich, which is being heard in the High Court today, has in spades. But unlike with Abramovich, who can probably take a hit to the tune of a couple of billion without too much of a lifestyle change, this is a case that neither party can afford to lose.


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