The majority of claimants suing Royal Bank of Scotland at the High Court have indicated a willingness to settle the action, a judge has been told.
The news was announced at a brief hearing in London today, when Mr Justice Hildyard was told that discussions between the claimants and the defendants were making significant progress.
Jonathan Nash QC, for the claimants, told the judge: “The present position is that the majority of claimants have indicated their willingness to accept the latest offer from the defendant.
“There now appears to be a good prospect that within the course of today the remaining claimants, or nearly all, will confirm they will also agree in principle so as to bring a practical end to the proceedings.”
The judge granted an agreed adjournment until tomorrow morning for talks to continue.
The much-anticipated 14-week civil case was due to begin yesterday, but at the outset of the proceedings the judge gave the go-ahead for the start of the trial to be put back a day for settlement negotiations to be continued. He granted a further adjournment at the resumed hearing.
The legal action centres on a rights issue overseen by former chief executive Fred Goodwin in April 2008 when RBS asked existing shareholders to pump £12 billion into the bank after leading a consortium that spent £49bn on Dutch lender ABN Amro.
Shareholders claimed they were left nursing hefty losses following the cash call after RBS shares plunged 90 per cent and the UK government was forced to step in when the deal turned toxic.
The judge, granting a further adjournment, said: ”There is obvious interest in the court in seeking to facilitate a full and final settlement agreeable to the parties.”
But he pointed out it was also important that the court’s time was not was not taken up idly with adjournments and there had to be a “realistic timetable”.
He added: ”There will come a time when the claimants must simply realise that it is incumbent on them to make up their minds whether to continue with the litigation.”
Mr Nash said that, barring “unforeseen developments”, an adjournment of a day would be sufficient. He also said if the trial had to go ahead the parties were confident the case could be heard within the allotted time.