Royal Bank of Scotland trial need not go ahead, High Court judge confirms

 
William Turvill
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The Royal Bank of Scotland trial was due to last for 14 weeks (Source: Getty)

A High Court judge has confirmed the Royal Bank of Scotland trial will not go ahead after the shareholder action group accepted a settlement offer from the lender.

However, the court heard that some investors have yet to accept the 82p-per-share offer, meaning there is still some uncertainty about how the case will end.

Jonathan Nash QC, for the claimants, told the court he anticipated that the remaining 13 per cent would accept the offer. But Mr Justice Hildyard left the door open for these claimants to keep the action alive.

Read more: RBS spends £1bn in bid to avoid High Court trial over 2008 rights issue

The cancellation of the trial was all but confirmed yesterday when the RBS shareholder action group indicated it was accepting the lender's settlement offer.

RBS spent £1bn in total avoiding the trial, which would have seen former chief executive Fred Goodwin take to the stand. The bank has spent £900m on compensation payouts and at least £100m in legal fees.

The court heard that 87 per cent by value of the remaining claimants had agreed to accept the 82p-per-share settlement offer and others were likely to follow suit.

Read more: RBS “diehard” investors in race to cover legal costs

But the court heard that one investor, with 2,000 shares, had indicated he was dissatisfied with the offer.

Mr Justice Hildyard accepted a request by Nash for the trial to be “vacated”. But he left the door open for “restoration of the hearing” if negotiations fail.

A spokesman for RBS said the bank's offer "remains open for acceptance for a short period to the further 13 per cent".

"It was made clear today in court that this delay is the result of procedural issues," he added.

"None of the outstanding claimants have indicated any intention to continue the claim. We have been very clear that putting our legacy issues behind us is a priority so that we can focus on building the best bank for our customers, shareholders and employees.

"Reaching settlement, with no admission of liability, is a positive outcome for the bank and its shareholders, in what could have been a lengthy trial process lasting several years."

A spokesman for the shareholder action group said:

This settlement with RBS comes after many years of campaigning for compensation on behalf of those who lost out in 2008.

In that time, we have been forced to endure many struggles, including having to fund and run an entire case when the other claimants settled early.

Our decision and resolve to press on has been vindicated by this settlement, which is twice that accepted by others who had much greater resources than us.