Belfast Telegraph

Court to get update on efforts to resolve RBS legal action

A High Court judge is to be given an update today on the state of settlement talks currently under way in a bid to resolve a legal action by thousands of shareholders against Royal Bank of Scotland.

Mr Justice Hildyard has been told by a QC representing investors that "progress towards a settlement remains good".

Although the judge has formally adjourned the case until June 7 as negotiations continue, the parties in the high-profile dispute are due to return to court this afternoon to give him a progress report.

The much-anticipated trial was due to start in London on Monday, but it has not got off the ground because of adjournments for talks to continue between claimants and the bank.

The judge has heard the majority of claimants have indicated a willingness to settle.

Jonathan Nash QC, for the shareholders, told the court on Wednesday: " We remain hopeful it will be possible to reach a final compromise of the claims made In these proceedings."

Granting a third adjournment of the trial, Mr Justice Hildyard said he understood "this is an exceptional case with exceptional logistical problems".

He emphasised there must be "certainty one way or the other" on whether the litigation would be going ahead or not.

The legal action centres on a rights issue overseen by former boss Fred Goodwin in April 2008 when RBS asked existing shareholders to pump £12 billion into the bank after leading a consortium that spent £49 billion on Dutch lender ABN Amro.

Shareholders claimed they were left nursing hefty losses following the cash call after RBS shares plunged 90% and the Government was forced to step in with a £45.5 billion bailout when the deal turned toxic.

If the litigation does proceed, disgraced former chief executive Mr Goodwin, who was stripped of his knighthood following the bank's near collapse, and a raft of former executives are expected to be questioned as part of a £700 million lawsuit brought against the lender by 9,000 retail investors and 18 institutions in the RBS Shareholder Action Group.

The bank has previously settled compensation claims brought against it by other shareholder groups in connection with the 2008 rights issue.

But the lender, which is still 73% owned by the Government, stressed payments were made without any admission of liability.

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