1 March 2016Print This Post

LIBOR case transferred to Financial List despite need for new judge

Sir Terence: others have claims relating to alleged rigging of LIBOR rates

LIBOR claim: others have actions relating to alleged rigging of rates

A claim against Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), including allegations of rigging the LIBOR rate, has been transferred to the new Financial List even though the move means bringing in a new judge.

The Property Alliance Group (PAG), which claims around £29m in damages, opposed the application by RBS for a transfer.

Sir Terence Etherton, chancellor of the High Court, said the definition of a Financial List claim under CPR 63A included both cases where the amount claimed is over £50m and those raising “issues of general importance” to the financial markets.

Sir Terence said the allegations by PAG “concerning the alleged improper conduct of RBS in relation to the fixing of LIBOR rates” involved “important issues of general market significance”.

He went on: “It is well known that there are others who have claims, and are now or are likely in the future to be litigating, in relation to similar issues arising out of the alleged rigging of LIBOR rates.

“It seems reasonably clear that the judgment following trial in the present proceedings will have an impact on other cases already launched and those which will be launched in the future.

“It is also likely that decisions about provisions in the agreements between RBS and PAG limiting RBS’s exposure to claims for negligence will have relevance elsewhere in the markets.”

Sir Terence said that if the case became “viewed in a general sense as a lead or test case”, followed by others suitable for the Financial List, it was desirable for it to be dealt with by a Financial List judge, so that the judgment carried “appropriate weight and respect in the market”.

The chancellor explained that this would mean that Mr Justice Birss, who had managed proceedings “conscientiously and to a high standard”, would be replaced by a Financial List judge.

The High Court heard in Property Alliance Group v RBS [2016] EWHC 207(Ch) that RBS had filed an amended defence of 172 pages (excluding schedules) to the claims.

Sir Terence picked out a number of points which he said should be noted in connection with the application for transfer to the Financial List.

Among them was that RBS argued that PAG had “misunderstood the nature and content of the British Bankers’ Association (BBA) definition of LIBOR” and that the bank denied making “any of the implied LIBOR representations” alleged by PAG.

“It is alleged that PAG’s case in relation to many of the LIBOR allegations appears to be based entirely upon a number of misunderstandings as to the nature and content of the BBA definition of LIBOR,” Sir Terence said.

The chancellor added: “The Financial List is deliberately restricted to a relatively small cadre of judges who are not only particularly expert in the law applicable to financial markets, but they will also be abreast of important developments in the practices of those markets.”

He directed the case to be transferred to the Financial List and for a new judge to be assigned to it.

By Nick Hilborne

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