The Backdoor Class War That's Making British Firms Shiver; UK SHAREHOLDER GROUPS AND INDIVIDUALS ARE BEING ENCOURAGED TO JOIN MASS LAWSUITS AGAINST COMPANIES HERE AND ABROAD
Rossiter, James, The Evening Standard (London, England)
Byline: JAMES ROSSITER
BUYERS and sellers of anything from a Dinky toy car to an Impressionist painting via auctioneers Sotheby's or Christie's over the past 10 years may have had a nice surprise over the past couple of weeks. They will have opened letters promising a guaranteed minimum payment of $20.
All they have to do is sign an agreement to settle a class action, under way in the US civil courts, and its British equivalent. These once venerable houses are paying out $20 million (pound sterling13 million) each in compensation to drop the claim after being found guilty of criminal price-fixing during the 1990s, which saw Sotheby's former chairman Alfred Taubman go to jail for a year and a day and pay a $7.5 million fine.
Should those lucky winners read the small print, they may be in for a shock.
American attorneys can grab a quarter of the winnings for their trouble - a mere $10 million. Small wonder a handful of British lawyers are wising up to a very American way of suing big business.
Sure enough, the same auctioneer settlement reveals "counsel in the English Action" - Marble Archbased group litigation specialist ClassLaw - will "seek fees" of up to pound sterling500,000.
This may seem like small change relative to the carve-up by …
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Publication information: Article title: The Backdoor Class War That's Making British Firms Shiver; UK SHAREHOLDER GROUPS AND INDIVIDUALS ARE BEING ENCOURAGED TO JOIN MASS LAWSUITS AGAINST COMPANIES HERE AND ABROAD. Contributors: Rossiter, James - Author. Newspaper title: The Evening Standard (London, England). Publication date: May 2, 2003. Page number: 44. © Not available. COPYRIGHT 2003 Gale Group.
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