Newspaper backs down over law firm claims after IPSO complaint

RBS: Signature represents large number of claimants

The law firm acting for shareholders in the RBS rights issue litigation has secured a substantial correction from the Sunday Express to a story that implied it was in dispute with its clients, after making a complaint to the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO).

Signature Litigation said the newspaper had breached clause 1 of the IPSO code – on accuracy – in an article in the newspaper headlined “RBS shareholders tackle own lawyers”, published last November. The online version’s headline was “RBS to lock horns with former lawyers in legal battle over £200m payout”.

The firm acts for a large number of claimants in the case and was retained in that capacity by the RBoS Shareholders Action Group, which acts as agent for the claimants. Last March, the role performed by the group was delegated to Manx Capital Partners on a sole exclusive basis.

According to a resolution statement issued by IPSO – which ultimately did not need to adjudicate on the complaint – a dispute arose between the action group and Manx as to the terms and effect of that delegation, which resulted in litigation. Signature was not a party to it.

It was settled with the action group agreeing not to appoint or instruct any other solicitors.

The Sunday Express article referred both to settlement damages paid to the claimants represented by Signature and also to the Manx dispute.

The firm said the newspaper was operating “on a fundamental misunderstanding of the matter upon which it was reporting” by conflating the two, which it argued resulted in a number of inaccuracies being published by the newspaper, including in the headlines.

The newspaper disagreed but offered Signature the opportunity to submit a letter for publication.

As a result, IPSO began an investigation, after which the newspaper offered to remove the original online article and replace it with an amended article, “the content of which had been agreed between the parties and which removed the inaccuracies that the complainant had complained of”.

The paper also removed the original online article from the other online platforms over which it had control, including its apps.

Signature said these steps resolved the matter to its satisfaction, meaning IPSO did not make a determination as to whether there had been any breach of the code.

A firm spokesman said: “The RBS rights issue litigation has in the past suffered from misreporting, which it has been important to correct in order that claimants and the public are not misinformed. We took action in this case to correct a number of inaccuracies and we were pleased to resolve the complaint having all of those removed.

“Signature Litigation has only ever acted for claimants, and not for the RBoS Shareholders Action Group Limited, which was the former agent in that case. The new agent is Manx Capital Partners Limited, by whom we are instructed on behalf of the claimants.

“The action group company recently challenged Manx’s authority to manage the litigation, but this was resolved by the court in Manx’s favour.

“We are delighted with the result we achieved for the claimants in the RBS rights issue litigation, which was more than double that achieved for any other claimant group. We are currently verifying all the shares and costs incurred in this case, in order to distribute funds to the claimants as soon as possible.”

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