RBS Wins Bid to Merge Suits Over 2008 Offering Into Single Claim

Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc won a bid to combine lawsuits filed by more than 16,000 investors who say they lost money on a 2008 share offering into a single group action.

The suits “should all take place in an identified forum to ensure that the matter can be adjudicated in a way that is final and binding,” said Judge Robert Hildyard in London, granting a so-called group litigation order. The order requires plaintiffs to register with a single lawyer and the law firms that filed the separate suits must decide how much power to give the attorney.

RBS is facing lawsuits from thousands of investors who say they weren’t warned about the bank’s perilous financial situation in a 2008 share-issue before its 45 billion-pound ($69 billion) bailout by the British government. In one of the claims, 12,000 shareholders are seeking as much as 4 billion pounds. The suit also named executives including former Chief Executive Officer Fred Goodwin.

Lawyers at London law firm Leon Kaye Solicitors said in court documents today that they represent an additional 4,000 small investors. Claimants in one of the previous actions included pension funds for U.K. mineworkers’ and Illinois teachers.

New plaintiffs must file a claim before April 15, 2014, Hildyard said.

The best way to deal with the lawsuits is to “produce a single set of particulars telling only once the story upon which they wish to rely,” RBS said in documents from a hearing today.

The cases are: John Greenwood v. Frederick Goodwin & Ors, High Court of Justice, Chancery Division, HC13F01247 and Trustees of the Mineworkers’ Pension Scheme Ltd & Ors v. The Royal Bank of Scotland Plc, High Court of Justice, Chancery Division, HC13D01192

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