The largest banks have been defendants in 157 High Court lawsuits in the 12 months up to 30 September 2016 compared with 115 cases for the previous 12 months ended September 2015. RPC's research highlighted that the long-term fallout from the financial crash of 2008 and a general great willingness by companies to fight disputes in court had accounted for the uptick. Third party litigation funders had also helped more companies take action against banks, according to the research.
UK banks majority
The research found that over the past five years, the world’s 50 largest banks have been involved in a total of 784 High Court cases and in 58 per cent of cases were defendants. UK banks made up a majority of the 784 High Court cases involving the top 50, with Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds and Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) accounting for 67 per cent, or 530, cases. RBS appeared as the defendant in 118 cases - higher than any of its UK counterparts with Barclays just behind with 106.
RBS - advised by Herbert Smith Freehills - is currently in the middle of a highly publicised £4 billion group action brought against it by Signature Litigation on behalf of some 27,000 shareholders. This claim relates to a 2008 rights issue when RBS sold its shares at £2 per share, with the claimants alleging the prospectus on which the rights issue was based was 'defective' and contained material misstatements and omissions.