Slater & Gordon – Third-Party Shareholder Class Actions
Maurice Blackburn is conducting two class actions on behalf of Slater & Gordon (ASX:SGH) shareholders:
- A class action against SGH’s former legal adviser Arnold Bloch Leibler (ABL) (ABL Class Action); and
- A class action against SGH’s former auditor Pitcher Partners and Ernst & Young LLP (EY UK) (The Pitchers Class Action).
Maurice Blackburn commenced the Pitchers Class Action in 2018 and commenced the ABL Class Action in September 2019.
These class actions follow an earlier class action against SGH itself (Hall Class Action) which settled in 2017 (see further information in the frequently asked questions).
Am I eligible to register for the class actions?
The ABL Class Action has been commenced on behalf of all persons who acquired an interest in fully paid ordinary shares in SGH between 30 March 2015 and 25 November 2015. The Pitchers Class Action was commenced on behalf of all persons who acquired an interest in fully paid ordinary shares in SGH between 30 March 2015 and 24 February 2016.
If you, or someone you represent, purchased SGH shares between 30 March 2015 and 24 February 2016, and were not registered in the class action against SGH, you are eligible to register to participate in the ABL & Pitchers Class Actions. All persons who were registered as group members in the class action against SGH will automatically be registered as group members in the ABL & Pitchers Class Actions, regardless of whether they previously opted out.
It is possible that prior to the trial the Court may make orders requiring group members to register their claims to be eligible to participate in the class actions. If you are a group member but have not yet registered, we encourage you to do so to ensure that you remain eligible.
About these class actions
In the ABL Class Action, we allege that ABL acted negligently in providing advice to SGH and failed to ensure that the documents published by SGH to the ASX in relation to the Entitlement Offer, which was used to raise capital from SGH shareholders to finance the disastrous acquisition of the Professional Services Division (PSD) of Quindell plc, were not misleading or deceptive.
In the Pitchers Class Action, we allege that Pitcher Partners, SGH’s auditor for the 2015 financial year, and Ernst & Young LLP, failed to identify and raise a number of risks with the acquisition of the PSD, resulting in SGH’s FY15 Appendix 4E and FY15 Financial Report being materially misstated. In SGH’s half-year accounts in February 2016, SGH wrote off $814 million of goodwill associated with the PSD acquisition.
How do I register for the class actions?
You are able to register for the class action by accessing the online registration portal here.
On the registration portal, you can register your details and will be provided an opportunity to retain Maurice Blackburn to represent you in the class action.
Want to find out more?
Please see below some frequently-asked questions about the case and links to key documents.
If you would like further information regarding the class action, please contact us at SGH@mauriceblackburn.com.au, on 1800 572 151 (+61 1800 572 151 for international callers) or by mail to the address below:
SGH Class Action
Maurice Blackburn Lawyers
Level 21, 380 Latrobe Street
Melbourne VIC 3000
Frequently Asked Questions
Maurice Blackburn is Australia’s leading class action law firm. We have achieved the nation’s largest class actions recoveries, collectively having recovered over $3 billion in compensation for victims of wrongdoing.
Signing up to the ABL Class Action and the Pitchers Class Action will not expose you to any out of pocket costs. Unless and until there is a successful outcome, all costs in the proceedings will be borne by Maurice Blackburn and the litigation funder, International Litigation Partners No 15 Pte Ltd. In the event of a successful outcome, any legal and funding costs will be deducted from, and will not exceed, any compensation that you are entitled to receive. Both the legal and funding costs must be considered and approved by the Court before they are able to be deducted.
Both the ABL Class Action and the Pitchers Class Action have been commenced on an “open class” basis. There are both funded and unfunded group members in the class, and at an appropriate point in the litigation we will apply for orders (similar to the common fund order as part of the settlement of the SGH Class Action) to ensure that all group members – whether funded or unfunded – share the legal and funding expenses equally in the event of a successful outcome. Further notice of any such application will be provided in due course.
As a group member (and not the Representative, in whose name the case has been brought), an adverse costs order may not be made directly against you in respect of the determination of the common issues in the class actions. Unless and until there is a successful outcome to the class actions, all costs will be borne by Maurice Blackburn and the litigation funder.
Where seven or more people have claims that arise out of similar circumstances, a class action can be brought by one claimant on their own behalf and as a representative of others.
The class action process saves time and expense by avoiding the need for the courts to determine common issues of fact or law more than once. Class actions are efficient, enabling disputes and claims involving large numbers of people to be resolved via a single case.
- Exchange of evidence is largely complete in the Pitchers Class Action, with further evidence to be exchanged in the ABL Class Action.
- The trial of both class actions (which are being heard together) is scheduled to start on 9 November 2021.
- Group members will have an opportunity to opt out prior to the trial. We will advise further about this when the Court makes the relevant orders.
ABL, Pitcher Partners and EY UK have filed their defences. ABL has also brought cross-claims against SGH and SGH’s former CEO and CFO (all of whom are also cross-respondents in the Pitchers Class Action). The various cross-respondents in both cases (including SGH and former directors and officers) have filed their defences to these cross-claims (as well as, in some cases, further cross-claims against the Applicant).
We have served the evidence of the lead applicant and our expert reports in the Pitchers Class Action. We have since received Pitcher Partners’ lay and expert evidence, and in April we filed out expert evidence in reply. In the ABL Class Action, we have filed and served the majority of our expert evidence and the lead applicant’s lay evidence. The lay and expert evidence of EY UK, ABL, and the cross-respondents will be filed at various points over coming months.
The trial – of both proceedings heard together – is now scheduled to run from 9 November 2021 until 23 December 2021. It is anticipated that the two cases will go to a formal joint mediation in September 2021.
The next case management hearing is scheduled to occur on 11 June 2021. The Court may make orders in relation to the process for group members to “opt out” of the two class actions. More information will be provided if the Court makes the relevant orders.
On 12 October 2016, Maurice Blackburn commenced a class action against SGH on behalf of the Applicant, Matthew Hall, and all persons who acquired an interest in fully paid ordinary SGH shares between 30 March 2015 and 24 February 2016 (Hall Class Action). All persons who acquired an interest in fully paid ordinary shares of SGH during the period 30 March 2015 to 24 February 2016 and did not opt out of the class action by the date ordered by the Court were Hall Group Members. An in-principle settlement was reached in July 2017, and a Deed of Settlement was executed in September 2017.
The settlement of the Hall Class Action was approved by the Federal Court of Australia on 14 December 2017 (Hall Settlement). Final Distributions for the Hall Settlement have been determined and distributed, such that that settlement administration for the Hall Settlement has now concluded. If you were a Hall Group Member, but did not previously register with Maurice Blackburn and/or did not return your Participant Declaration by the Participation Deadline (23 February 2018), you are bound by the terms of the Hall Settlement, but are not eligible to receive a distribution from the Settlement Fund. You do however remain eligible to participate in the ABL Class Action and/or the Pitchers Class Action if you acquired SGH shares during the relevant period (see the earlier answer to “Am I eligible to register for the class actions?”).
Case documents & In the media
Resources & Links
Global accounting giant EY has alleged its national rival Pitcher Partners engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct and negligence in its 2015 audit work for Slater and Gordon before its near collapse.
Shareholders in Slater and Gordon have reached a $36.5 million settlement with the beleaguered law firm, a move that will pave the way for the group's restructure.
Maurice Blackburn's class action
record is second to none.
We are the only Australian class actions firm to deliver $100M+ settlements to clients in shareholder and listed securities actions, and have done so on seven occasions.
We've recovered in excess of $3 billion for wronged clients since the inception of our class actions practice in 1998.
Our reputation for excellence in class actions is unparalleled, increasing our chances of:
Lower cost to clients
Andrew WatsonNational Head of Class Actions, Melbourne
"I'm an experienced litigator in class actions, particularly for shareholders who have been victims of corporate misconduct."
Lee TaylorPrincipal Lawyer, Melbourne
"I am committed to seeking justice for everyday Australians."