PRESSBOX

Scott & Scott’s London calling grows stronger


Ben Rigby - 19 October, 2015
Commercial Dispute Resolution

The US claimant class action firm establishes new links with a leading London set as it develops further plans for Forex litigation. The tie-up adds an extra dimension to the competition between those rival firms chasing the same claims.

At first blush, the combination of sharp-eyed US claimant lawyers, Scott & Scott, and London’s distinguished Brick Court Chambers, situated near the very edge of the Victorian-era Royal Courts of Justice, might seem an unlikely one to US lawyers.

Advocacy is what the firm’s managing partner, David Scott, excels in, not least for his specialist practice in securities class actions claims in the United States, where the firm has chalked up victories in the millions for settlements involving Mattel, (USD 122 million); Shell (USD 90 million); and Credit Suisse (USD 70 million).

Add his reputation in shareholder corporate governance litigation, in which the firm has loudly trumpeted successes in a variety of multi-million dollar suits, and one might wonder if he needs the support of the luminaries of Brick Court, whose alumni, of course, include the likes of Lord Sumption QC.

Off the bat of the firm’s summer opening in London, in which Belinda Hollway took over the leadership of the London office, Scott is turning his attention to London’s market for financial services litigation.

Cases such as the LIBOR litigation and the multiple Forex settlements with leading banks have fuelled the firm’s imagination to recover similarly large sums to those it has received in the US. It does so off the back of multiple major settlement announcements; one in August with Barclays Bank, Goldman Sachs, BNP Paribas, HSBC and the Royal Bank of Scotland.

In May, the firm announced a settlement that requires Citigroup and Citibank to pay USD 394 million, while also providing cooperation to claimants in their prosecution of claims against remaining defendants, having achieved April 2015 settlements with Bank of America to the tune of USD 180 million.

Other settlements agreed with the firm include agreements involving UBS member group companies, as well as JPMorgan Chase and others. All told, the settlements total over USD 2 billion with the breakdown per defendant disclosed to date for the sum of USD 808,500,000.

BIG MONEY TALKS

That gives Scott’s firm a war chest in fees and a reliable reputation to be reckoned with as it stalks the London legal scene – and Brick Court’s shrewd senior clerks know a potential winning proposition when they see one, having worked with the growing number of US firms in London.

So too does one of the set’s high-flying silks, Daniel Jowell QC. Jowell, sometimes unfairly typecast as a competition and EU lawyer for his work in the UK and EU courts, is also known for his commercial acumen, and the 2013 silk has quickly established himself as an advocate who wants to be at the leading edge of cases, be they oligarch actions, class action claims, or financial services claims.

Jowell was part of the Laurence Rabinowitz QC-led team that acted for Roman Abramovich in the celebrated Berezovsky litigation, although wins for Visa Europe, Exxon, Dow Chemicals, Alstom, Air Canada and Sharp in competition law damages claims show his versatility.

With London’s new financial list system in operation, Jowell’s experience in complex multi-jurisdictional disputes cases will be useful – by analogy, his awareness of competition law damages actions of recent years sets the scene for a long term partnership with likeminded firms.

With the choice of an experienced senior junior in Gerard Rothschild and capable help from Charlotte Thomas of the same chambers, Jowell’s legal pedigree will be tested by Scott’s firm in investigating the potential launch of similar actions in Europe.

In a statement, the firm said: “In light of the advice provided by Daniel Jowell QC, Scott & Scott intends to vigorously pursue claims in Europe against financial institutions that had conspired to manipulate the USD 5.4 trillion-per-day foreign exchange market.”

The statement said that the European-centred case was part of “manipulation on a truly global scale and to a much broader degree than initially understood so that those responsible should be held accountable for their misconduct in multiple jurisdictions”.

TAKING COUNSEL’S ADVICE

That much could have been ascertained by those attending CDR’s Litigation Symposium in May, where participants discussed such issues at length, including a memorable discussion by in-house counsel.

Holloway said in her own statement, made at the start of October, that Jowell’s advice made them ever “more certain that we will have a strong case to bring to the courts in Europe and we wish to pursue this case vigorously. We will work with our clients to help them find the most effective way to bring these complex cases to court”.

“The scale of the conspiracy meant that most institutions were affected, enabling Scott & Scott to assess damages accurately and therefore present a comprehensive claim.”

Of course, receiving counsel’s opinion, however glowing, does not guarantee the prospects of success, any more than the simple issue of proceedings will cause an audience of London banks to roll over immediately.

Scott’s reputation is as yet untried in London against hard-bitten law firms like Freshfields, Herbert Smith Freehills, and others, who, with their own counsel from Fountain Court, One Essex Court, and others, will be keen to examine Jowell’s work closely.

Scott, knowing this, added his own note to the firm’s announcement: “We are very pleased to receive Daniel’s advice, but it comes as no surprise as we have been working on this litigation for three years. This is a complex case with sophisticated and diverse claimants facing experienced defendants.”

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