Wrapping it up, 20 June 2007
What follows here is a wrap up of a few recent articles and posts, including on the UK Companies Act 2006, the ‘f-cubed’ class and national Enrons.
The worry is that the new shareholder derivative action is so clear that people are bound to want to take advantage of it. There’s a huge temptation to use the stick because it’s there and because it’s new. It remains to be seen whether this combination (of statutory general duties of directors and shareholder derivative action) will be used […] Most business people regard litigation as a tool of last resort in the UK. It will be interesting to see if litigation around these issues starts to be used in the UK as a tool more in the American style.
Edwin Coe LLP seems to be clearer and more decisive on what effect the Act, which comes into force in October this year, will have on directors duties and derivative actions in particular:
The Act undoubtedly heralds significant changes but these changes do not in any way match shareholders’ rights in the US and it is highly unlikely that we will see any substantial growth in shareholder litigation as a result of the new provisions. (source)
WV&Z agrees with Edwin Coe on this point. Some things change and some things don’t. It’s the things that don’t - the ‘loser pays’ principle is one, the lack of availability of the contingency fee arrangement is another - that make it all in the end remain the same as it was. (Also see this previous post.)
Two interesting articles on foreigners in the US, by John C. Coffee Jr and Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Oliver & Hedges LLP, entitled ‘Foreign Issuers Fear Global Class Actions’ and ‘Foreign Plaintiffs and Class Members in U.S. Class Actions’ respectively.
Two notes on the Coffee article: he refers to a ’series of recent reports’ on capital markets competitiveness, one of which is by the (not therein expressly named) so-called Paulson Committee: Prof Coffee served as a consultant to the committee; Prof Coffee was retained by Royal Dutch Shell Plc to provide “the court with a brief memorandum outlining the extraterritorial reach of the United States’s federal securities laws” (but not to “address the merits of the dispute between the parties in the U.S. litigation”). (declaration, an annex to the court petition) In re Royal Dutch/Shell Transport Sec. Litig. and the Shell Settlement is one of the examples given.
Schiffrin Barroway Topaz & Kessler LLP has struck up its third alliance, with Isreali firm Man-Barak Advocates & Solicitors (press release, and see SLW) which already had an alliance with City firm McFaddens LLP, and it welcomes economist Peter Kraneveld in an advisory role, as does State Street Global Advisors. (source)
What when where: Legal Week’s Litigation Forum 2007 takes place in London on 19 September. The two panel sessions of most interest here are ‘Class action: friend or foe?’ which pits Cohen Milstein Hausfeld & Toll PLLC’s Rob Murray of the firm’s London office against, among others, Andrew L. Sandler of Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom LLP, and ‘Litigation funding models’ which includes representatives from IM Litigation Funding and NERA Economic Consulting. (programme and registration form)