As part of its ‘Spotlight’ litigation feature, The Lawyer has highlighted the work of our Securities Litigation team. The feature acknowledges the department as “one of the leading claimant side teams in the securities litigation market, specifically in the fast-growing area of shareholder group action claims.”
The US has been launching shareholder group actions in securities litigation for some time, which seek to recover losses on behalf of investors suffered due to a drop in the price of their shares, often caused by a corporate scandal.
While US law previously covered investors worldwide, in 2010, a US Supreme Court decision restricted investors from bringing claims against issuers listed outside the US. And so, the birth of shareholder group actions in securities litigation in the rest of the world began, with the UK’s watershed moment being the action brought against The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) in 2013, which the likes of Stewarts, Mishcon de Reya, Quinn Emanuel and Signature Litigation acted on the claimant side for and Herbert Smith Freehills on the defence side.
Since then, we’ve had claims brought against several large corporates, including Tesco, Autonomy, G4S, RSA Insurance Group, Standard Chartered and Barclays, to name a few. The fresh claims filed against Glencore and Petrofac, both of which Stewarts is acting on, are the latest to catch the market’s eye.
The Stewarts team
Keith Thomas heads the 20-lawyer team. Key partners include former investment banking specialist Harry McGowan, former Ashurst partner Lorraine Lanceley, and Laura Jenkins, previously a litigation assistant at the Office of Fair Trading. Three more partners in this team were formerly associates from the magic circle, including co-head of Commercial Litigation Lucy Ward, Elaina Bailes, and Zachary Sananes, who came from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Linklaters, and Clifford Chance, respectively. The rest of the team comprises senior associates, associates, trainees and paralegals.
The team focuses specifically on the section 90/90A FSMA 2000 claims, which they bring on behalf of institutional investors in listed public companies. The work begins by identifying cases. This includes looking at what prosecutors and regulators are doing and can even come to light through investigative journalists’ reporting on company malpractice. The team identifies those who have lost the most money, which requires knowing your way around financial markets and financial information.
As stated, Stewarts’ pioneering case was RBS, followed by Tesco. This history has meant it’s a leader in the market in bookbuilding these claims, which is one of the job’s most time-consuming and trickiest parts. This ‘bookbuilding from scratch’ is led by Keith Thomas and Harry McGowan.
State of the market
The space is also a magnet for litigation funders, with the leading players being Woodsford, Asertis, Burford Capital and Therium. They, alongside claimant and defendant firms, will be closely watching an early November hearing that will see Indivior seek to strike out an application for representative action. If the judgment allows representative action to go ahead, much like how we see in class actions in the Competition Appeal Tribunal, we could see this market really heat up.
When the Stewarts team isn’t working on the group actions, they act on financial and banking disputes, which falls more within the general Commercial Litigation team. This could involve other securities such as non-listed equities, bonds, fixed-income products, structured products and derivatives. They also work on non-securities related shareholder matters, which could involve shareholders in private companies and may focus on remedies available to shareholders, such as unfair prejudice petitions.
You can find further information regarding our expertise, experience and team on our Securities Litigation page.
If you require assistance from our team, please contact us.
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