Trending Now

Global law firm behind $70 billion BHP mining disaster claim launch Sydney office

By John Freund |

The lawyers behind a multibillion-dollar class action against BHP over the fatal 2015 Samarco dam disaster in Brazil, are opening an office in Sydney.

Global law firm Pogust Goodhead has corporates who fail to uphold their social and environmental responsibilities in its sights as it establishes an Australian presence with the opening of an office in Sydney’s legal district at 126 Phillip Street.

Pogust Goodhead is bringing a case against BHP, the world’s biggest miner, on behalf of over 700,000 claimants in Brazil following the collapse of the Fundão Dam in 2015. The collapse killed 19 people and released 50 million metres of toxic waste, destroying entire villages and livelihoods. The case is the largest class action of its kind and is set to go to trial in London in October 2024.

The new office in Sydney is expected to serve as a base to launch new claims against Australian corporations who fail to uphold their obligations.

Global Managing Partner Tom Goodhead said:

“We are delighted to be launching in Sydney. We are establishing a base in BHP’s backyard to ensure we explore every avenue in our fight for justice for the victims of one the world’s worst environmental disasters.”

“The mining sector in Australia plays a vital role in ensuring the availability of increasingly important rare and critical minerals, which makes it a major driver of economic growth and wellbeing. However, with this enormous wealth and influence comes a responsibility to the communities in which they operate – a responsibility premised on basic decency and fairness.”

“We are investigating a number of new cases against Australian multinational corporations, such as BHP, in which their commitment to this responsibility has been seriously thrown into question. With the launch of our Sydney office, we are putting Australian corporations on notice that we are ready to hold them to account.”

Described as ‘the first legal unicorn’, Pogust Goodhead, has seen huge growth in just over five years and now represents over three million clients worldwide. It is also accumulating a sizeable war chest, enabling it to confront some of the world’s largest corporate entities on behalf of its clients which include some of the most disadvantaged people on the planet.

In October last year the firm announced a landmark US$550m investment partnership with US-based emerging markets investment manager Gramercy. The firm employs over 700 staff and has offices in London, Rio, Edinburgh, Amsterdam, Miami, Philadelphia and now Sydney.

The Sydney office will be headed up by Partner | Head of Australia, Amie Crichton and Partner, Joshua Carton. With over 15 years’ experience, including across top-tier Australian and global firms, Amie is a highly sought after disputes specialist and commercial litigator. She has a proven track record in defending and prosecuting claims across the consumer, financial services, technology, resources and infrastructure sectors, with a primary focus on complex multi-party disputes and high-profile class actions. Amie is joined in the partnership by long standing colleague and complex commercial disputes and class action specialist, Joshua Carton

Partner | Head of Australia Amie Crichton said:

“Pogust Goodhead’s arrival in Australia is more than just another player in the legal field. What sets the firm apart is its global reputation and extensive network. In bringing their resources, knowledge and invaluable strategic partnerships to Australian shores, the firm is empowering individuals to seek justice on an unprecedented scale. This launch also signifies the firm’s recognition of Australia’s importance as a hub for representative proceedings and underscores its confidence in the country’s sophisticated class action framework. Pogust Goodhead is poised to leave an incredible mark, cementing their status as trailblazers in the pursuit of justice.”

About the author

Announcements

View All

Burford Capital Appoints KPMG LLP as Independent Auditor

By Harry Moran |

Burford Capital Limited ("Burford"), the leading global finance and asset management firm focused on law, is pleased to announce that, on July 1, 2024, the audit committee (the "Audit Committee") of Burford's board of directors (the "Board") has approved, and the Board has ratified, the appointment of KPMG LLP ("KPMG") as Burford's independent registered public accounting firm. KPMG will review Burford's consolidated financial statements for the three and nine months ending September 30, 2024 and will audit Burford's consolidated financial statements for the fiscal year ending December 31, 2024.

KPMG replaces Ernst & Young LLP ("E&Y"), which has served as Burford's independent auditor since 2010. While Burford is not subject to traditional UK mandatory auditor rotation every ten years, Burford is nevertheless conscious of shareholder feedback about best practices in the UK market and, while it would have been disruptive to have rotated auditors during the transition to US GAAP and the addition of our New York Stock Exchange listing, with those items behind us now is an appropriate moment to abide by those best practices and move to another Big Four accounting firm.

KPMG's appointment is subject to the ratification of Burford's shareholders at an extraordinary general meeting (the "2024 EGM") to be held in due course.

Dismissal of Previous Independent Registered Public Accounting Firm

On July 1, 2024, the Audit Committee has also approved, and the Board has ratified, the dismissal of E&Y as Burford's independent registered public accounting firm, effective immediately following the issuance of Burford's consolidated financial statements for the three and six months ended June 30, 2024.

The reports of E&Y on Burford's consolidated financial statements for the fiscal years ended December 31, 2023 and 2022 did not contain an adverse opinion or a disclaimer of opinion and were not qualified or modified as to uncertainty, audit scope or accounting principles. In connection with the audits of Burford's consolidated financial statements for each of the fiscal years ended December 31, 2023 and 2022 and during the period from the end of the most recently completed fiscal year ended December 31, 2023 through July 1, 2024 (the "Interim Period"), there were no "disagreements" (as defined in Item 304(a)(1)(iv) of Regulation S-K) with E&Y on any matter of accounting principles or practices, financial statement disclosure or auditing scope or procedure which "disagreements", if not resolved to the satisfaction of E&Y, would have caused E&Y to make reference to the subject matter of the "disagreements" in connection with their report for such years. There were no "reportable events" (as described in Item 304(a)(1)(v) of Regulation S-K) during the two fiscal years ended December 31, 2023 and 2022 or the Interim Period, except for certain identified material weaknesses in Burford's internal controls relating to:

  • a lack of available evidence to demonstrate the precision of management's review of certain assumptions used in the measurement of the fair value of capital provision assets as disclosed in Burford's annual report on Form 20-F for the year ended December 31, 2023 filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (the "SEC") on March 28, 2024, which Burford is in the process of remediating as of the date of this announcement; and
  • the determination of Burford's approach to measure the fair value of capital provision assets in accordance with Accounting Standards Codification Topic 820—Fair Value Measurement, as disclosed in Burford's annual report on Form 20-F for the year ended December 31, 2022 filed with the SEC on May 16, 2023, which was remediated at December 31, 2023.

The Audit Committee discussed the "reportable events" with E&Y, and Burford has authorized E&Y to respond fully to the inquiries of KPMG, as successor auditor, concerning the subject matter of such "reportable events".

Pursuant to Item 304(a)(3) of Regulation S-K, Burford provided E&Y with a copy of the disclosures in this announcement prior to furnishing this announcement under the cover of Form 6-K to the SEC, and E&Y has furnished a letter addressed to the SEC stating that E&Y agrees with the statements set forth in this paragraph and the two immediately preceding paragraphs above. A copy of E&Y's letter, dated July 9, 2024, has been furnished as Exhibit 99.1 to the Form 6-K.

Appointment of New Independent Registered Public Accounting Firm

On and effective as of July 1, 2024, KPMG was appointed as Burford's independent registered public accounting firm for the three and nine months ending September 30, 2024 and for the fiscal year ending December 31, 2024. The Audit Committee approved, and the Board ratified, the appointment of KPMG, subject to the shareholder approval at the 2024 EGM. 

During Burford's two most recent fiscal years ended December 31, 2023 and 2022 and the Interim Period, neither Burford nor anyone acting on its behalf has consulted KPMG regarding either (i) the application of accounting principles to a specified transaction, either completed or proposed, or the type of audit opinion that might be rendered on Burford's consolidated financial statements, and neither a written report nor oral advice was provided to Burford that KPMG concluded was an important factor considered by Burford in reaching a decision as to any accounting, auditing or financial reporting issue or (ii) any matter that was either the subject of a "disagreement" (as defined in Item 304(a)(1)(iv) of Regulation S-K) or a "reportable event" (as described in Item 304(a)(1)(v) of Regulation S-K).

About Burford Capital

Burford Capital is the leading global finance and asset management firm focused on law. Its businesses include litigation finance and risk management, asset recovery and a wide range of legal finance and advisory activities. Burford is publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: BUR) and the London Stock Exchange (LSE: BUR), and it works with companies and law firms around the world from its offices in New York, London, Chicago, Washington, DC, Singapore, Dubai, Sydney and Hong Kong.For more information, please visit www.burfordcapital.com.

Read More

Allia Group Appoints Seasoned Legal Strategist Justin Fitzdam as General Counsel

By Harry Moran |

Allia Group, the innovative legal finance firm exclusively specializing in healthcare insurer disputes, is excited to announce that Justin Fitzdam has been appointed as General Counsel. Mr. Fitzdam is based in Allia Group’s Nashville office.

Fitzdam has extensive in-house healthcare litigation expertise. In his 11 year tenure at HCA Healthcare, one of the nation’s largest hospital systems and healthcare service providers, he spearheaded the development of their nationwide litigation program against managed care payors. In addition, he oversaw all litigation, regulatory enforcement and compliance, investigations, and related legal issues for a substantial portfolio of HCA’s facilities and affiliates. His strong track record of successful litigation against the largest health insurance companies resulted in several of HCA’s largest judgments.

Over the course of his career, Fitzdam brings nearly 20 years of litigation, mediation, and arbitration experience across a broad range of large, complex, and highly regulated industries.He began his career in private practice at Sullivan & Cromwell LLP and then Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP where he represented clients on both the plaintiff and defendant sides in all federal and state court levels, including the United States Supreme Court.

Fitzdam holds a J.D. from Cornell Law School and a B.S. in Accounting from the University of Florida.

In his new role, Fitzdam will be responsible for leading and implementing litigation strategy for Allia Group’s portfolio of litigation and will serve as the head legal advisor to the CEO and senior management. In addition, he will also define new areas of growth and oversee the underwriting of legal risks related to new business and transactions.

“We are thrilled to welcome Justin to the team,” said Eliot Listman, CEO of Allia Group. “His expertise with payor litigation in both in network and out of network cases will be indispensable. He is an ideal fit as our strategy grows to include solutions for even the largest hospital systems and physician groups in the battle against big health insurance. We are fortunate to have Justin on the team in our mission to hold payors accountable for bad behavior.”

About Allia Group:

Allia Group specializes in litigation finance solutions to improve the financial position of healthcare providers. To demand responsibility from healthcare insurers, Allia litigates and arbitrates against these payors and structures the purchase of underpaid claims and legal rights to monetize these assets, benefitting providers’ cash flow. Allia has the experience to address the needs of hospital systems, physician groups, and emergency transportation businesses. Visit www.allia.group to learn more.

Read More

SdK Offers Litigation Finance to Enforce Claims for Additional Payment for Former Shareholders of STADA Arzneimittel AG

By Harry Moran |

Former shareholders of STADA Arzneimittel AG who tendered their Stada shares as part of the takeover offer by Nidda Healthcare Holding AG in August or September 2017 are entitled to an additional payment of €8.15 per share. This was decided by the Federal Court of Justice in May 2023. Since Nidda Healthcare Holding AG refuses to make a voluntary additional payment to all former STADA shareholders, SdK Schutzgemeinschaft der Kapitalanleger e.V. is offering litigation financing for a legal claim without any cost risk to the affected former STADA shareholders.

On July 19, 2017, Nidda Healthcare Holding AG, a joint venture of the international financial investors Bain Capital and Cinven Partners, submitted a voluntary public takeover offer to the shareholders of STADA Arzneimittel AG to acquire their shares at a price of € 66.25 per share. Within the acceptance period (until the end of August 16, 2017), the bidder’s offer was accepted by 63.76 % of STADA shareholders and within a further acceptance period (until September 1, 2017) by a further 0.11 % of STADA shareholders. The bidder thus achieved a tender volume, including shares held by STADA, of approx. 63.87 % of STADA’s share capital and voting rights. 

On August 30, 2017, a shareholder holding 8,265,142 shares (13.26 % of the shares and voting rights) agreed to a domination and profit and loss transfer agreement between Nidda Healthcare and STADA if the amount of the compensation under the domination and profit and loss transfer agreement is at least EUR 74.40 per STADA share. Several former shareholders of STADA, who had accepted the lower takeover offer, filed a lawsuit against the bidder demanding the difference between the offer price and the compensation under the domination and profit and loss transfer agreement of EUR 74.40. 

In two identical judgments dated 23 May 2023 (case no. II ZR 219/21 and II ZR 220/21), the German Federal Court of Justice (BGH) ruled in favor of two plaintiffs pursuant to sections 31 (5) and (6) WpÜG, referring to the principles of the so-called Celesio case law. In principle, all former shareholders of Stada AG who had initially exchanged their regular shares for the securities tendered for sale with ISIN DE000A2GS5A4 or for securities subsequently tendered for sale with ISIN DE000A2GS5B2 and had subsequently tendered these in the takeover offer are entitled for the payment of the difference. 

Following a request of the Federal Financial Supervisory Authority („BaFin“), the Bidder published a corresponding notice in the Federal Gazette, but pointed out that, in its view, any payment claims by former shareholders could be based on the defense of the statute of limitations. In the opinion of the Bidder, the statute of limitations generally began at the latest at the end of 2017. However, this is incorrect. The claims of the former shareholders of STADA are not yet time-barred: This is because after the courts of the 1st and 2nd instance had still rejected the claim for subsequent payment, only the BGH confirmed this claim for additional payment. The claim for additional payment is therefore not yet time-barred.

The SdK is offering affected former STADA shareholders legal cost financing to enforce their claims for additional payment. The claims can thus be enforced without any cost risk. The SdK, as the financier of the legal costs, assumes all costs of the legal proceedings in return for a profit participation of 30% of the proceeds in the event of success. For more information please contact us at info@sdk.org.The SdK will be happy to answer any questions from its affected members by e-mail at info@sdk.org or by telephone on +49 89 / 2020846-0.

Read More