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Burness Paull defends multi-million dollar claim relating to legacy business

Burness Paull is defending a $210m claim relating to legacy business Paull & Williamsons, Legal Business has learned.

The claim, filed by Robert Kidd, former chairman and principal shareholder of oil service firm International Tubular Services (ITS) relates to a private equity investment by US firm Lime Rock Partners into ITS. Kidd, who left ITS in 2013 citing disagreements with the board, is claiming Paull & Williamsons acted for both sides in the investment and used another firm, Ledingham Chalmers as a front for the activity.

The original value of the claim was $210m, but Kidd is also claiming interest at 8% over about five years. The original claim value is roughly four times Burness Paull’s turnover in 2015/16 which stood at £53.3m last year.

Burness Paull, which inherited the liability when it acquired Paull and Williamsons in 2012, has instructed BTO Solicitors’ professional negligence lawyer Alan Eadie. Levy & McRae’s head of commercial litigation, Graham Craik is acting for Kidd.

It is understood that the case will appear imminently in a Court of Session, Scotland’s supreme civil court, for a procedural hearing. The case has been live in front of the court for 18 months, but the claim was first filed three years ago.

ITS was involved in another court dispute earlier this year against Downhole Solutions, a technology and technical solutions company.

Downhole Solutions claimed it owned equipment manufactured and delivered by Steel Service Oilfield Tubular Steel Services. However ITS denied that it had the property or that the pursuer was the owner of the property, arguing that it was owned by a separate company, namely the group holding company ITS which went into administration in May 2013.

In a judgment delivered in August, Kidd is described as a ‘very successful businessman who grew his enterprises from humble beginnings to a turnover exceeding many millions of pounds. The decision says ‘Kidd is what is commonly referred to as a “wheeler dealer”. He focused on the wider picture leaving the detail and paperwork to others.’

A spokesperson for Burness Paull said: ‘We can confirm that a claim has been made against the firm that arises out of events concerning Paull & Williamsons. Adhering to the highest ethical and professional standards is a guiding principle of the firm. The action is being defended and it would be inappropriate to comment further on the matter at this stage.’

Representatives for Kidd, and Ledingham Chalmers also said it was inappropriate to comment.