Who's Suing Whom: City bomb leaves legal legacy

DERBY INVESTMENT Holdings, a property company based in Regent's Park, London, is suing the Corporation of London and nine insurance companies over rent it says it lost following damage to one of its City buildings, Broad Street House, as a result of the IRA bomb explosion on 24 April 1993.

Derby is claiming damages from the City corporation for negligence and breach of duty over the arrangement of insurance cover for loss of rent contained in an insurance policy Derby took out with the nine insurance companies.

The property company is also suing the companies themselves for "failing promptly and expeditiously to settle the Plaintiff's claim" under the policy following the bomb.

The companies are Royal and Sun Alliance, CGU, Norwich Union, Allianz Cornhill International Insurance, Gan Insurance, ITT London and Edinburgh, Avon Insurance, Syndicate 506 at Lloyd's of London, and Pool Re Insurance Company.

ANDERSEN CONSULTING, the giant Chicago-based firm, is accusing a former employee of having made more than 600 bogus calls to its offices and those of its clients in the UK, in order to obtain secret commercial information.

The consultancy says that Charmain Buckley worked for them between September 1995 and May 1996. The firm is taking action against her, her partner Neville Buckley, and their own company Totally Outsourced Proactive Solutions (Tops), all based in Bowdon, Cheshire.

Andersen claims that from November 1995 the duo made at least 629 calls to its offices alone. For instance, on 22 March this year, Charmain Buckley "or another person acting on behalf of Tops whose true identity is not known " posed as Georgina Walsh of Nestle. The caller obtained from Sophie Doumas of Andersen Consulting the name of Valerie Simonnet and the fact that Ms Simonnet was working on a project for Nestle.

Andersen claims the duo made other bogus calls to British Gas Trading's main switchboard in Staines and to Cap Gemini in Sweden.

The consultancy says that in the calls concerned, the duo used a false name. If they were calling a client they would claim to be from Andersen, and if calling Andersen would claim to be from a client.

In addition, Andersen says: "The tone of the caller tended to become aggressive if the information requested was not provided." All the time, the company says, the duo were trying to work out which Andersen staff were working on which confidential projects for which clients.

Andersen is now seeking an injunction to stop the duo from claiming they work for it, as well as damages. The Buckleys were unavailable for comment.

THE INVESTORS Compensation Scheme (ICS) is still pursuing legal action against half a dozen building societies over the home-income plan scandal 10 years after it broke, with thousands of pensioners still waiting for full compensation.

The ICS currently has writs outstanding against the Alliance & Leicester Building Society, the Halifax (which has since converted to a Plc), the Bristol & West, the Newcastle, the National Counties, the Derbyshire and a firm of intermediaries, Bretton Financial Services.

Last year, the ICS reached out-of-court settlements with the West Bromwich Building Society, the Cheltenham & Gloucester (now part of Lloyds TSB) and the Stroud & Swindon.

The West Bromwich, for instance, paid out over pounds 10m to 685 elderly victims of the home-income plan (HIP) debacle.

In the Eighties more than 3,000 elderly people remortgaged their homes in order to reinvest the money in income bonds, designed to pay off the mortgage interest. The idea was to release the equity of their homes and to use that to fund their living expenses in old age. Then interest rates rose, property prices slumped and the bonds produced poor returns. Regulators put a number of financial intermediaries out of business as a result.

The ICS then recompensed the losers as far as possible. That process is complete. The ICS is now seeking to recover the costs of this compensation - and any more money it can raise - from the mortgage lenders.

A writ which the ICS originally issued against Alliance & Leicester has recently been re-issued. A spokeswoman for the ICS said this was to enable new investors' names to be added to the claim. Neither the ICS nor the Alliance & Leicester is prepared to speculate on whether the matter will be settled, or whether it will go to court.

A spokeswoman for the Alliance & Leicester said: "We didn't sell home- income plans. We are aware that customers did remortgage with us in order to take out these products. But we maintain that we are not liable [to pay compensation] in the way the ICS is accusing us of."

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