Lloyd's lodges first writs against names

Rupert Galliers-Pratt, the colourful Old Etonian financier, Tony Gooda, of the Gooda Walker syndicates, and Robin Kingsley, of the Lime Street Agency, are among 150 names that are the subject of writs lodged yesterday by the Lloyd's of London insurance market.

Lloyd's is seeking to recover more than pounds 500m in unpaid debts from around 1,800 names who have refused to accept Lloyd's pounds 3.2bn compensation deal for losses incurred by the market in recent years.

Writs against another 50 or so names will be lodged in the High Court today. Lloyd's plans to take immediate legal action against 20 of the first 200 targets, but has refused to say who these will be.

More than 32,000 names have signed up for the settlement package and, in return, agreed to end legal action against Lloyd's and its agents.

A Lloyd's spokesman yesterday said he did not know what criteria Lloyd's had used to select the 200 names who are named in the first writs.

The amount of money owed to Lloyd's by the 1,800 non-acceptors would have been reduced to around pounds 100m, had they accepted the settlement deal, the spokesman said.

A list of the first 150, in possession of the Independent, contains many names well known in the market.

One subject of a writ, Sally Noel, is a leading light of the United Names Organisation, a new pressure group formed by so-called "refuseniks", those names who have rejected the Lloyd's reconstruction package.

Probably most well known is Mr Galliers-Pratt, a flamboyant financier and Old Etonian who has been associated with a number of failed business.

Mr Gooda led the Gooda Walker syndicates which made the biggest losses in the recent years when Lloyd's fortunes plummeted. The UK courts made a pounds 500m award against the Gooda Walker syndicates on behalf of those involved in the market.

Mr Kingsley was a member of the Lime Street Agency, a members' agent.

Lloyd's of London has embarked on this tough line of legal action after years of agonising negotiations in order to refinance itself and avoid financial disaster. Brought low by huge asbestos claims and a series of natural disasters, Lloyd's also suffered from bad management. Now the management is optimistic that the market's future has been assured by the restructuring, but is determined to press on to recoup the pounds 500m it claims it is owed by the refuseniks.

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