Ruling

Resolution Statement – 19582-17 Signature Litigation LLP v Sunday Express

    • Date complaint received

      8th February 2018

    • Outcome

      Resolved - IPSO mediation

    • Code provisions

      1 Accuracy

Resolution Statement 19582-17 Signature Litigation LLP v Sunday Express

1. Signature Litigation LLP complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that the Sunday Express breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) in an article headlined “RBS shareholders tackle own lawyers”, published on 15 October 2017. The article was also published online, with the headline “RBS to lock horns with former lawyers in legal battle over £200m payout”.

2. Signature Litigation LLP acts on behalf of a large number of claimants in the group litigation which emerged following the collapse of the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) share price in 2009, commonly referred to as the RBS Rights Issue Litigation. It was retained in this capacity by the RBoS Shareholders Action Group Ltd in July 2015, a company incorporated solely to act as agent for the claimants. In March 2017 the role performed by the RBoS Shareholders Action Group Ltd was delegated to Manx Capital Partners Ltd on a sole exclusive basis.

3. A dispute subsequently arose between the RBoS Shareholders Action Group Ltd and Manx Capital Partners as to the terms and effect of that delegation which resulted in litigation between the parties. Signature Litigation LLP was not a party to that litigation.

4. The articles complained of concerned the payment of settlement damages (net of costs) to claimants represented by Signature Litigation LLP in the Rights Issue Litigation. The articles also reported on matters arising out the litigation between the RBoS Shareholders Action Group Ltd and Manx Capital.

5. The complainant said that the newspaper was operating on a fundamental misunderstanding of the matter upon which it was reporting because the article had effectively conflated issues arising out of the RBS Rights Issue Litigation with issues arising out of the litigation between the RBoS Shareholders Action Group Ltd and Manx Capital Partners. The complainant said that this had resulted in a number of inaccuracies being published by the newspaper, including inaccurate headlines.

6. The newspaper disagreed with the complainant’s analysis and said that there was no misunderstanding. It said that it was reporting on an active dispute between RBoS Shareholders Action Group Ltd and Manx Capital Partners, the details of which it claimed were set out in the articles. While the newspaper did not accept a breach of the Code, it offered the complainant the opportunity to submit a letter for publication, setting out their position in the next available edition.

Relevant Code provisions

7.    Clause 1 (Accuracy)

i) The Press must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information or images, including headlines not supported by the text.

ii) A significant inaccuracy, misleading statement or distortion must be corrected, promptly and with due prominence, and — where appropriate — an apology published. In cases involving IPSO, due prominence should be as required by the regulator.

iii) A fair opportunity to reply to significant inaccuracies should be given, when reasonably called for.

iv) The Press, while free to editorialise and campaign, must distinguish clearly between comment, conjecture and fact.

Mediated outcome

8. The complaint was not resolved through initial direct correspondence between the parties. IPSO therefore began an investigation into the matter.

9. Following IPSO’s intervention, the newspaper offered to remove the original online article from its website and replace it with an amended article, the content of which had been agreed between the parties and which removed the inaccuracies that the complainant had complained of. It also removed the original online article from the other online platforms over which it had control, including its Apps.

10. The complainant said that these steps resolved the matter to their satisfaction.

11. As the complaint was successfully mediated, the Complaints Committee did not make a determination as to whether there had been any breach of the Code.

Date complaint received: 03/11/2017

Date complaint concluded: 28/11/2017