Last Thursday (28 January 2016) the Chancellor of the High Court, Sir Terence Etherton, ordered that Property Alliance Group’s ongoing £89 million claim against the Royal Bank of Scotland should be transferred to the Financial List. The case relates to allegations of mis-selling of four interest rate swaps, and includes claims that the swaps should be set aside because they are linked to the LIBOR benchmark. RBS strenuously resists the claims. The bank had applied to transfer the case to the Financial List
The Financial List has been open for business since 1 October 2015. The Property Alliance Group case is believed to be the third existing case to be transferred into the List, alongside eight new claims that have been commenced on the List since it began.
In a brief ex tempore judgment the Chancellor ruled that although the case had been presided over by a single judge for some time, the disruption of changing that judge would be outweighed by the benefits of the case being decided by one of the Financial List’s small number of judges who were “not only expert in financial matters but also up to date with the latest important developments in financial markets”. Because the case is a “lead case” where judgments made would likely affect present and future cases, it would be particularly beneficial for it to be transferred to the Financial List, which would “give it more weight than it otherwise would have in the financial markets”.
The tone of the decision is interesting in its acknowledgment that an objective of the Financial List is to encourage international litigants to use the English courts, and that the List aims to increase the credibility of High Court decisions in the financial markets. As previously predicted, it seems the courts are also very willing to acquiesce in applications to transfer cases into the Financial List to quickly build up a pipeline of cases and showcase its benefits.