UK - A UK law firm is looking for pension schemes to front a class action against US companies which have been hit by corporate scandals.
The move is being spearheaded in the UK by SJ Berwin, which is working on a contingency fee basis – despite the practice being barred by the English Law Society.
The firm is exploiting a loophole in English law that allows it to work on a “no gain, no fee” basis provided the cases are handled in conjunction with a US firm.
SJ Berwin is working with Washington-based Hagens Berman with all subsequent litigation taking place in the US.
The SJ Berwin partners handling the work – litigation head Tim Taylor, pensions partner Wyn Derbyshire, and partner Hilton Mervis – are currently identifying UK pension schemes that lost out as a result of corporate scandals.
Mervis explained that many schemes were not aware of how easily they could address grievances through the US contingency fee scheme.
He said the initiative was not just aimed at funds that lost large amounts of cash but any scheme that felt it had a claim.
SJ Berwin will receive a share of the damages if its clients win but nothing in the interim besides disbursements such as air fares and basic expenses.
One participating pension fund – which chose not to be named – told IPN’s sister publication Professional Pensions: “This is something all responsible pension funds should consider.
“There’s no down side. You don’t have to pay any money and there’s a good chance you’ll win something from it.”
The companies facing claims include Enron, WorldCom, Global Crossing, Qwest, Bellsmith Corporation, American Express and Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia.
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