October 14, 2010, 1:41am
IT WASN’T quite Athens 2005, but Liverpool’s High Court victory represented an exhilarating comeback of sorts. And the match-winner this week was not Steven Gerrard but the more scholarly, if less athletic, figure of Lord Grabiner QC.
The legal heavyweight, reputed to be the second highest paid barrister in the land, merely watched from the bench in the early stages of Tuesday’s hearing, as Richard Snowden QC outlined Royal Bank of Scotland’s case against Tom Hicks and George Gillett.
Matters took a surprising turn when the American pair’s barrister, Paul Girolami QC, skilfully began to sow seeds of doubt about the legitimacy of the bank’s case and sought to unpick the threads of its argument, swinging momentum in his clients’ favour.
Were Hicks and Gillett, who stood accused of trying to delay or scupper a sale, really going to snatch victory and dash the Liverpool board’s plans to sell the club to New England Sports Ventures in Court 16?
Enter Grabiner. Liverpool’s QC chose his moment to pipe up and began to bulldoze the objections one by one. He showed wit, flair and a remarkable knowledge of case law, even if he did consider its use vulgar, referencing cases from 1974 and, in one crowd-pleasing move, 1896.
Only the judge Mr Justice Floyd knows how much Grabiner’s intervention influenced his judgement in Liverpool’s favour, but from the gallery he looked the clear man of the match.