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 Class Action); and
- A class action against SGH’s former auditor Pitcher Partners and UK-based auditor Ernst & Young LLP (Pitchers Class Action).
We are currently preparing for mediation and trial (dates below). Depending on whether the current restrictions in Victoria continue, it is possible that both mediation and trial will occur via videoconference rather than in-person.
12 October 2021 – Joint mediation. 9 November 2021 – Trial of both cases begins.
Am I eligible to register for the class actions?
You are a Group Member of one or both of the two class actions if you acquired an interest in fully paid ordinary shares in SGH at any time between:
- 30 March 2015 and 24 February 2016 (for the Pitchers Class Action); and
- 30 March 2015 and 25 November 2015 (for the ABL Class Action).
If you meet the above description and suffered loss or damage by reason of the conduct of the respondents named in the class action, you are a member of the class, regardless of whether you still hold shares or whether you also purchased additional SGH shares prior to or after that period.
All persons who were registered as Group Members in the original class action against SGH (Settled SGH Class Action) will automatically be registered as Group Members in the ABL Class Action & Pitchers Class Actions, (regardless of whether they previously opted out of the Settled SGH Class Action).
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
The Pitchers Class Action and ABL Class Action are being brought by the Applicant, Mr Matthew Hall, on his own behalf and on behalf of all persons who are Group Members.
In the Pitchers Class Action, the Applicant alleges that in 2015 Pitcher Partners, SGH’s auditor for the 2015 financial year, and Ernst & Young LLP (EY UK), the component auditor of SGH’s UK businesses, failed to identify or communicate risks around the likelihood that the $1.1 billion goodwill asset associated with the acquisition of the Professional Services Division (PSD) of Quindell plc was impaired. The result of this is alleged to be that SGH’s FY15 Financial Report and/or FY15 Appendix 4E were materially misstated.
The ABL Class Action is about the Entitlement Offer announced to the ASX on 30 March 2015, which was used to raise capital from SGH shareholders to finance the acquisition of the PSD. The Applicant alleges that Arnold Bloch Leibler (ABL), SGH’s legal adviser, engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct and / or was negligent in performing its role as, amongst others, a member of the Due Diligence Committee in relation to the Entitlement Offer.
Further information about the proceedings, including the Statements of Claim, are available to be viewed in the Resources & Links section at the bottom of this page.
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
Please note that our response to correspondence by post may be impacted by COVID related restrictions in place in Melbourne.
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 substantially complete, with further evidence to come from ABL, EY UK, and the Cross-Respondents.
- The trial of both class actions (which are being heard together) is scheduled to start on 9 November 2021.
ABL, Pitcher Partners and EY UK have filed their defences and cross-claims (including against SGH and a number of SGH’s former directors and officers). The various cross-respondents in both cases have filed their defences to the cross-claims (as well as, in some cases, further cross-claims against the Applicant).
We have served the evidence of the Applicant and our expert reports in the Pitchers Class Action. We have since received Pitcher Partners’ lay and expert evidence, and in April 2021 we filed out expert evidence in reply. In the ABL Class Action, we have filed and served our expert evidence and the 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 October 2021.
Group members who have registered with us should have received a Court-approved notice advising them of their right to opt out of one or both of the class actions, which they had until the 8 September 2021 to complete. This process has now been finalised. A copy of the 20 July 2021 orders, which attaches the Opt Out Notice, is available below in the Resources & Links section.
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 (Settled SGH 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 Settled SGH Class Action was approved by the Federal Court of Australia on 14 December 2017. Final distributions for the Settled SGH Class Action have been determined and distributed, and the settlement administration 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 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."