Watchstone’s legal tussle with Slater and Gordon heats up with counterclaim

Big four accounting firm implicated

Watchstone’s legal tussle with Slater and Gordon heats up with counterclaim

Insurance News

By Terry Gangcuangco

The saga continues for Watchstone Group, the reincarnation of what used to be known as Quindell, as it receives High Court permission to serve an amended defence and counterclaim in the proceedings issued by Slater and Gordon UK more than two years ago. Now PwC finds itself in the middle of the tussle.

“The counterclaim against S&G is currently for damages of at least £63 million plus exemplary damages, interest, and costs for breach of confidence, inducing breach of contract, and unlawful means conspiracy,” stated Watchstone in a London Stock Exchange filing.

“The counterclaim arises from the recent discovery via third-party disclosure of an illicit back channel that Greenhill & Co, a corporate finance adviser to S&G, procured during the period of due diligence and negotiation with Watchstone’s then group restructuring and technical accounting adviser, PricewaterhouseCoopers.”

Watchstone, whose specialties include technology for the insurance industry, pointed to what it called “secret meetings” between Greenhill and PwC representatives involving supposedly confidential information concerning the firm founded by Robert Terry.      

“S&G (and Greenhill on its behalf) then factored that information into its tactics and strategy for the negotiations with Watchstone leading to the acquisition of the professional services division which is the subject of these proceedings, thereby gaining an unfair advantage in those negotiations, which it exploited in order to purchase the PSD at a lower price than it would otherwise have had to pay,” continued Watchstone.

“S&G thereby planned to, and did cause, Watchstone to suffer significant loss.”

The claims in relation to the back channel, including the filed counterclaim, will be heard concurrently with the Slater and Gordon trial starting October 21.

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