Woodford case goes to court as Leigh Day triggers proceedings against Link

Claim involves initial group of 100 former Woodford Equity Income investors

Beleaguered Woodford Equity Income investors will have their day in court as Leigh Day officially launches proceedings against the fund’s authorised corporate director Link Fund Solutions.

The law firm has today issued a claim on behalf of an initial group of 100 former investors in Neil Woodford’s defunct fund.

It sent Link a letter before action, required in the UK to trigger the litigation process, back in March, alleging the ACD mismanaged the £3.6bn fund and failed to maintain appropriate levels of liquidity, which ultimately led to the fund’s collapse.

Three months later, Link’s lawyers, Clifford Chance, came back with a 40-page response, stating the former WEIF gatekeeper refused to compensate investors and would “vigorously defend” the claim.

Leigh Day said the case has now reached a stage where “it has become necessary to issue proceedings to trigger a court timetable and take the matter through to trial as speedily as possible”.

Leigh Day partner Boz Michalowska commented: “This is a big step forward in the legal action which we hope will allow investors of the Woodford Equity Income fund to get justice and their hard-earned pensions and savings returned to them.”

Court timetable set in motion

It is unclear whether the Woodford case will appear on the docket before the year’s end.

Portfolio Adviser understands that from issuing proceedings claimants will have four months to serve Link with their particulars of claim, which sets out what the dispute is about. Link will then respond by filing a defence.

After this, the court decides on matters including the timeline for disclosure of documents, exchange of witness statements and expert reports and will fix a date for trial.

Leigh Day to issue proceedings on rolling basis for 11,000 clients

Leigh Day’s legal challenge against Link for its alleged failings in the Woodford saga has continued gathering steam. When Portfolio Adviser spoke to the law firm back in February it was representing 4,500 clients and had just been endorsed by UK shareholder society, Sharesoc.

It has now been instructed by over 11,000 claimants impacted by the Woodford debacle.

Leigh Day said it is planning to issue proceedings on a rolling basis for all its clients. The claims will then be consolidated under a group litigation order so that the risks, costs and benefits can be shared by all claimants on the group action register.

Several other firms are also going after Link for its role in the Woodford saga, including Harcus Parker. Though the London litigator has gone through the initial steps of triggering litigation against Link and had been hoping to launch a case before the summer there has been no update as of yet.

In March RGL Management launched formal proceedings against Hargreaves Lansdown for its continued cheerleading of Woodford’s fund. It is simultaneously pursuing a claim against Link for its role in the fund’s demise.

See also: Woodford investors face longer wait times as Link struggles to ditch illiquid biotech names

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