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Funding issue sees Signature Litigation replace Fladgate on RBS litigation

Having helped secure third-party funding, City boutique Signature Litigation has been instructed by the RBS Shareholders Action Group in its high profile £1.2bn court battle against the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), the second change for the case and a move which has replaced Fladgate.

In November last year Legal Business revealed that Bird & Bird had lost its high profile advisory role on the complex RBS shareholder dispute over its 2008 rights issue, a significant instruction that was given to Fladgate.

But that has now been handed to Signature, with founder and partner Graham Huntley going on the record in mid-July. Huntley has instructed 3 Verulam Buildings duo Jonathan Nash and Peter de Verneuil Smith, who appeared for the group at the case management conference last week, along with junior Ian Higgins.

Bird & Bird had been representing the bank’s former chief executive John Greenwood and the RBoS Shareholders Action Group Limited, with around 12,000 retail and around 100 corporate, institutional and charitable members (the BB Action Group). At the time the firm said it had continued to ‘work on their behalf despite issues with receiving payment of fees from the Action Group’.

According to one source close to the case, this time there has been no disagreement between the claimants and Fladgate in relation to fees but rather the absence of funding for the case as the ‘money ran out’. However, John Campbell QC, a representative for the client group, said in evidence to the Court that ‘the instruction of Signature brought to the Group some legal advisers who clearly had more experience than many in funding, and funding negotiations’, adding that ‘all the previous stumbling blocks have been overcome as we have secured an agreement with respect to our current funder’.

A statement issued today (3 August) stated that funding had ‘hampered the group’s ability to participate in recent months’, something which Mr Campbell said in evidence Signature had ‘worked hard to resolve’.

Signature’s claimant group is the largest of three currently in dispute with RBS, with the others represented by Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan and Stewarts Law.

The action is being brought against the bank’s former chief executive Fred Goodwin and three other directors, and relates to a rights issue in April 2008, in which RBS sold its shares at £2 per share. The claimants allege that the prospectus on which the rights issue was based was ‘defective’ and contained material misstatements and omissions.

Herbert Smith Freehills continues to defend RBS in both cases.