U.K. Business Lawsuits Rise as Lehman-Claims Expiry Date Looms

U.K. business lawsuits increased 23 percent in the last year as lawyers try to beat a 2014 deadline to bring claims related to the financial crisis.

Cases filed at the Commercial Court, where most business disputes in the British capital are heard, reached 1,393 in the year ending Sept. 30, law firm Reynolds Porter Chamberlain LLP said in a statement.

Most legal disputes over contractual claims in the U.K. must be filed within six years of an alleged breach. RPC, based in London, said the rise in claims is because it is more than five years since the collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. in September 2008 roiled financial markets worldwide.

“The financial crisis exposed businesses to huge losses on everything from complex financial transactions to the most straightforward of commercial agreements,” said Geraldine Elliott, a lawyer at RPC. “A lot of businesses are very busy looking for ways to unpick transactions that lost their business large sums of money after Lehman Brothers collapsed.”

An increase in wealthy foreigners bringing disputes to London has also contributed to the rise, the report said.

Ukrainian billionaire Victor Pinchuk filed a suit in London’s High Court in May against two other magnates from his country over shares in an iron ore company. Russian billionaires Roman Abramovich and Oleg Deripaska both defended claims brought by former business partners at the U.K. courts in 2012.

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