8 November 1996
Times Law Reports
Commercial Court of the Queen's Bench Division
Lloyd's litigation: Outstanding cases (No 2)
Lloyd's litigation - outstanding cases
Outstanding cases in Lloyd's litigation
Plaintiffs in a number of outstanding Lloyd's litigation cases set down for trial in 1997, who had not accepted the recent market settlement, should be fully advised by their solicitors on their position as to costs and generally in the event of their pursuing individual claims.
Appropriate consent orders should be drawn up vacating the fixed date in those cases where no plaintiffs in a particular case proposed to continue their claims.
Where it was unclear whether any particular plaintiff proposed to continue with his claim, the parties, and in particular the defendants, should apply to the court for directions as soon as practicable unless the parties agreed an order in similar terms to that in Aarons v Arthur Andersen (The Times, October 8, 1996).
Mr Justice Cresswell so stated in a statement issued on October 30 concerning outstanding cases in the Lloyd's litigation in the Commercial Court of the Queen's Bench Division.
HIS LORDSHIPsaid that the statement, made further to the statement dated September 23 (The Times October 8, 1996) was primarily directed to all solicitors acting for parties in the following cases where a trial date had been set for 1997: Wellington (Long tail) (January); Macmillan (February 3); Janson Green 1 (Long tail) (April); King (April); Pulbrook 90 (Long tail) (June); Poland (Long tail) (June); Secretan (Long tail) (October).
Solicitors for the plaintiffs in those cases should fax a copy of his Lordship's statement to the defendants' solicitors.
In each of the above cases a high percentage of names had accepted the recent market settlement. In several of the cases it was not clear what action the few plaintiffs who had not settled proposed to take. It was obviously most important that such persons should be fully advised as to their position as to costs and generally, in the event of their pursuing individual claims.
If it was clear that no plaintiffs in a particular case proposed to continue with their claims, Pulbrook 90 appeared from correspondence to be such a case, an appropriate consent order should be drawn up, inter alia, vacating the fixed date.
If it was not clear whether any plaintiffs in a particular case proposed to continue with their claims, his Lordship suggested that the parties seek to agree an order in similar terms to the order dated September 26, 1996 in Aarons v Arthur Andersen and WMD Underwriting Agencies Ltd (in liquidation) (i) vacating the trial date (ii) extending time for compliance with any outstanding directions generally (iii) providing that if any plaintiffs wished to pursue their claims they had to apply to the court for further directions within a limited period of time (iv) providing that if no application for further directions was made within the time stipulated the action(s) be stayed, or dismissed, (v) directing that the effect of the order should be communicated by the plaintiffs' solicitors to all plaintiffs who had not accepted the market settlement as soon as practicable.
If the parties could not agree such an order, the parties, and in particular the defendants, should apply to the court for directions as soon as practicable and if possible before November 8, 1996.
In the case of Wellington and Macmillan, his Lordship directed that any such application be made before November 8, 1996.
For completeness, his Lordship recorded that he recognise that special considerations applied to certain defendants, for example the actuaries in Secretan. In such cases application would have to be made to the court for directions if no agreement was arrived at.
Notice should be given to Lloyd's of any applications for further directions and Lloyd's should be invited to attend where appropriate.
Although this statement was primarily directed to cases where a trial date had been set for next year, parties in all other outstanding group actions where no trial date had been set should consider adopting a similar approach to that set out above.