A judge has ordered a top London law firm to appear before him to explain why it wants the details of a settlement involving the company and Rangers to remain secret.
Lord Bannatyne ordered Collyer Bristow to tell the Court of Session why it doesn’t want the details which brought a legal action which involved it and the liquidators of ‘oldco’ Rangers to an end made public.
The solicitors paid the ‘oldco’ liquidators £24 million in relation to fees they received to the Glasgow team’s takeover by businessman Craig Whyte in 2011.
The lawyers - who acted for Mr Whyte in the takeover - made the payment in an out of court settlement to the liquidators.
The legal practitioners argue that the nature of the settlement should remain confidential.
Their wishes have been expressed in a legal action in which a firm - which incorporates businesses involved in Craig Whyte’s takeover - are suing the ‘oldco’ Rangers for £2.8 million.
However, Lord Bannatyne wants to hear the reasons why Collyer Bristow want to keep the matter secret.
On Tuesday, following a hearing at the Court of Session, Lord Bannatyne ordered Collyer Bristow to instruct Scottish lawyers to make submissions on the matter to him at a future hearing.
He said: “It would be better to hear from Collyer Bristow solicitors. I am going to direct to them to appear before me and I will continue the case.”
Collyer Bristow’s wish for the agreement to remain secret emerged during a hearing at the Edinburgh court on Tuesday.
Their concerns were heard during a procedural case involving Rangers FC Group Ltd and RFC 2012 PLC.
Rangers Group is suing RFC 2012 - the liquidators of ‘oldco’ Rangers for £2.8 million.
Rangers FC Group Ltd is the name given to companies which were previously involved with ‘oldco’ Rangers.
It includes Wavetower, the company which Mr Whyte used to acquire Rangers, and Sevco 5088. The latter was the name given to the company which was used by the club’s former Chief Executive to buy the ‘Gers from Mr Whyte.
Rangers Group Ltd is currently controlled by a specialist London based business called Henderson & Jones. This company specialises in buying legal claims from other businesses and pursuing them through the courts.
Rangers Group wants the information because it believes it would help them assist their current action against the liquidators of Rangers.
It wants judges at the court to review a decision made by the liquidators - RFC 2012 PLC.
Rangers Group believes RFC 2012 PLC owes it cash because it is a creditor of the now defunct business.
However, RFC 2012 has refused to give Rangers Group any cash because it believes that it isn’t legally entitled to any money.
RFC 2012 have based their refusal to hand over the cash because it believes there was alleged illegality on the part of Wavetower and Sevco in their dealings with Oldco Rangers.
At a hearing last month Rangers Group’s advocate Douglas Fairley QC told Lord Bannatyne that it was important for his clients to know the details of the settlement of a legal action involving Collyer Bristow and the liquidators.
The judge agreed and allowed the settlement document to be placed before the court in a sealed envelope marked confidential.
The court would then legal arguments about whether the envelope should be opened and details of the settlement be made public.
On Tuesday, Mr Fairley said he knew that Collyer Bristow paid the liquidators £24 million. But he said he didn’t know what the exact nature of the agreement constituted.
He urged the court to make an order to open the envelope containing the settlement agreement.
Mr Fairley added: “We know that the settlement was for £24 million. But what we don’t know is what that £24 million was paid for.”
Mr Fairley told the court that it was important for his clients to know the settlement was for.
Advocate Roddy Dunlop QC, who was acting for RFC 2012, said his clients were content for the settlement agreement to be made public.
However, he said that he knew that Collyer Bristow didn’t want the settlement to be made public.
Mr Dunlop added: “The position is that the respondents do waive any privilege and confidentiality that they currently enjoy in this settlement.
“However, it is a bipartite agreement and Collyer Bristow have not waived their rights in this case.”
Lord Bannatyne concluded that he couldn’t make any ruling until he had heard legal submissions from Collyer Bristow about why they want the settlement agreement to remain confidential.
The case will next call in the near future.