Mr Justice Langley described the Equitable claim as ‘seriously flawed’ and ‘fanciful in approach and amount’. Langley has allowed the life assurance firm to re-plead an alternative claim, but the amount this is worth will be severely limited by his latest decision.
Nick Land, UK chairman of the Big Four firm said: ‘Clearly we are delighted with this success. The judge has made clear that it cannot be said to be any part of the auditors’ duty to protect the Society against the fall in value of its goodwill.’
Delivering his decision, Mr Justice Langley said: ‘…the present claim has been starkly exposed as seriously flawed and one which as it stands is both not based on reasonable grounds and does not have a real prospect of success.
‘…I do not think it is right….that defendants such as E&Y should face claims of the magnitude of these bonus declaration claims which can be shown to have so many basic flaws.’
In his summing up statement delivered three weeks ago, Mark Hapgood QC, acting on behalf of E&Y, said there was a ‘formidable catalogue of indisputable facts’ in favour of the Big Four firm and the basis of the Equitable Life claim ‘rests wholly on opinion’.
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