Bird & Bird successful in High Court claim against Arthur Scargill



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Elizabeth Lang, a partner in Bird & Bird's Employment Group, has successfully represented the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) in their High Court claim against Arthur Scargill.

The NUM challenged the ongoing payment of certain expenses arising from his employment contract as President of the Union from 1982 to 2002 as the basis for these payments was not clear. The main one was the reimbursement of rent and other outgoings for his flat in the Barbican at an annual cost of £34,000 which Mr Scargill claimed was his entitlement for the duration of his life and that of any widow following his death.

Following a 7 day trial in the Chancery Division in early October, Mr Justice Underhill made a declaration on 21 December 2012 in the Union's favour.  A full decision will be issued in the New Year, but given the publicity surrounding the case, a Summary of Reasons was handed down on 21 December (click here for the Summary of Reasons).

Chris Kitchen, General Secretary of the NUM commented: "Elizabeth Lang and her team have not only given sterling legal advice in this case but from the outset, recognised the sensitivities involved given the relationship between the Union and Mr Scargill. The NUM's NEC were under a duty to their members to clarify how the Barbican clause became incorporated into Mr Scargill's contract of employment and if it was obligated to honour that clause. This has now been clarified and the Union can now move on and represent its members in the Mining Industry."

Elizabeth Lang commented: “Many solicitors and barristers have advised the NUM over the years but in this case, the executive of the Union wanted a firm without this history to provide an objective view.  Most of the documents were over ten years old, including handwritten notes from the 1960s and the issues involved events which took place during and around the time of the 1984 Miners Strike. It was a fascinating case to be involved in, and we are delighted that we were successful in obtaining a declaration in the Union's favour”. 

Counsel were Damian Brown QC (who took silk during the case) of Littleton Chambers and Nicholas Davidson QC of 4 New Square.

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