Stephen Ruttle QC
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Banking & Finance
- A corporate investor claimed that investment advice provided to it by its merchant bank was negligent. The advice concerned the proportion and nature of emerging market derivatives within the portfolio. Proceedings had not then been begun. A two-day mediation led to a significant narrowing of the gap. The mediation resumed about two months later when further progress was made. The dispute subsequently settled after protracted telephone discussions between the parties and the mediator.
- The Trustees of a large Pension fund asserted negligence against their actuaries and claimed damages of about £10m. The dispute was resolved after a day of mediation.
- The beneficial owners of a series of off-shore trusts contended that their Trustee Bank was negligent in the investment advice given and in the manner in which particular holdings of the Trusts were sold. A one day mediation resolved the dispute.
- A dispute arose between a beneficiary of a Letter of Credit and the confirming Bank. The case was referred to mediation after a mediation order by the Commercial Court. The case settled at the mediation.
- A contract was made for the supply of high tech photographic equipment to be installed into MIG fighter jets. A settlement was agreed at the end of a long day of mediation.
- A company had agreed to provide security services to the Customs Service of an ex-Soviet Republic in order to seek to curtail the incidence of smuggling. Disputes arose and a colourful array of individuals attended the two-day mediation. The dispute settled.
Construction & Engineering
- Sewage and storm water waste pipes were laid in a trench across the sea-bed to a discharge point some miles off-shore. The trench infill failed to prevent the pipes from beginning to rise. Lengthy litigation resulted between the four parties involved. A two day mediation led to a settlement and saved the costs of a six to eight week trial.
- Claims were made by building owners against project managers because of the late completion of two buildings. In relation to the second building (but not in respect of the first) the insurers of the managers denied cover. A claim was made by the insured against the insurers (seeking a declaration of coverage) and against the brokers (in the alternative) for damages. The insurance coverage dispute was mediated. It was soon apparent that this dispute could not really be separated from the incoming claims against the managers. In the course of the one-day mediation an agreement was made by these three parties to settle their dispute and to make a sum available to the building owners. This agreement was contingent on the building owners accepting the sum offered within seven days. They did so; and accordingly all the interlocking disputes were resolved.
Energy & Natural Resources
- A long term Oil product supply agreement led to disputes between the supplier, which claimed damages of over $10m, and the purchaser. A two-day mediation took place in London and a further mediation took place in Athens.
- The five owners of a North Sea platform claimed damages of c.$35m against the builder. The builder counterclaimed $65m. The mediation took place before litigation as a result of a mediation clause in the Building contract. A one-day mediation was attended by about thirty personnel. The mediation adjourned and lengthy negotiations then took place between the parties directly.
Environmental: River pollution claim.
Insurance & Reinsurance
- A world famous hotel was badly damaged by a hurricane. A claim for more than $40m was made against the insurers. The mediation lasted two days and led to the settlement of complex interlocking American and English litigation between the four parties involved.
- A claim for about $50m was made against insurers by the Liquidator of a European commodity company arising out of the loss of large quantities of soya beans. A mediation took place shortly before the case came on for trial. The day concluded with the parties many millions apart and the trial began. The mediator kept in contact with the solicitors and after three weeks of trial arranged another meeting which was attended by representatives of the litigants and of the higher layer insurers. A settlement agreement was signed.
- Liquidators of a Lloyds Broker, acting with a Third Party claimant sued the broker’s Professional indemnity insurers for nearly £50m. A settlement agreement was signed after a two day mediation; and the agreement subsequently sanctioned by the Court.
- A claim for $45m was made by an American reinsured against its reinsurers arising out of North American personal accident and health insurance risks. A one day mediation led to agreement on a figure and the terms of the settlement were finalised shortly after.
- Other insurance claims mediated have involved fires, freight-forwarder liability, subrogated cargo claims, numerous professional negligence liability covers, credit and contingency claims (including several film-finance disputes), Directors and Officers cover, Contractors All Risks cover etc.
Partnership & Shareholder: Minority shareholder petitions.
- Many of the disputes identified above involved allegations of professional negligence in one form or another. I have mediated disputes in which the conduct of the following professionals was in issue. Solicitors, insurance and reinsurance brokers, accountants, actuaries, bankers, fund managers, professional trustees, surveyors, architects, engineers, builders, valuers and computer consultants.
- A large tanker went aground when negotiating entry into a UK port. Extensive oil pollution resulted contaminating hundreds of miles of beaches. A claim for over £50m was brought against the relevant port Authority alleging responsibility for the grounding and subsequent contamination. A two-day mediation resolved the dispute.
- A crane collapsed on the deck of a vessel being loaded. Several seamen died and there was damage to both the vessel and the crane. A five party mediation resulted. All the disputes were resolved in one day of mediation.
- A very large quantity of gasoil was sold from a VLCC acting as a floating storage depot. The gasoil was contaminated and out of spec. The cargo had been on-sold to numerous buyers and sub-buyers. Major litigation erupted. Part of this litigation was mediated. A three day mediation led to terms being put forward which were accepted by the counter-party soon after.
- A ship building dispute arose between a Far-Eastern yard and an Italian buyer. The issues related to the fitness of the vessels engines and generators. High-level delegations from both parties attended the mediation. The case came close to settlement and resolved a few days later following further discussions between the mediator and the parties.
- Other cases mediated include salvage, collision, General Average, Charterparty, Bill of Lading and shipbuilding disputes, and a series of disputes involving P and I Clubs.
Updated: October 2015