Serco Group have settled a landmark High Court case with a group of institutional investors following a sharp drop in the company’s share price.

Allianz and Russell Investments were among the investors who brought the claim in the High Court trial  which was linked to a 2013 scandal where Serco was accused of overcharging for the delivery of electronic tagging and prisoner escort services.

Serco is a British outsourcer of public services operating in more than 20 countries serving governments and corporations across five sectors: defence, justice and immigration, transport, health, and citizen services. News of the scandal saw its share price collapse by as much as 70 per cent at the time.

 Serco agreed to repay £68.5m to the UK government for overcharging to tag criminals with the company referred to the Serious Fraud Office. In 2019 it was forced to pay a £19.2m fine as part of settlement with the prosecutor, known as a deferred prosecution agreement.

Several lawsuits were then filed against the company between 2019 to 2021,seeking compensation for the collapse in the value of shares at the time the scandal emerged.

Lawyers acting for the claimants said in written arguments for the recent civil trial that “It (Serco) was, colloquially speaking, cooking the books. “ However, Serco, represented by Clifford Chance, argued in the case that there were “fundamental deficiencies” with the investors’ arguments.

The Serco case  was the first of its kind in England to go to trial and comes at a time when an increasing number of UK companies are facing shareholder lawsuits. They  include Glencore, Standard Chartered and Barclays,  who are facing legal action over share price drops.

Mark Dutton, director W Denis, said: “This form of litigation has been common for a long time in North America but has now  emerged under United Kingdom jurisdiction, making it vital to have specialist  Directors & Officers insurance in place.”

Serco confirmed in a statement it had settled the shareholder group action “ on satisfactory terms that are not material to the group. The terms of the settlement reflect Serco’s view that, upon completion of the trial that began on 10 June, it would most likely have successfully defended the claim.”

In another legal move, Law firm Fox Williams says it is preparing a separate case against gambling group Entain following a criminal bribery investigation by UK authorities into its Turkish subsidiary, which ended in December with it accepting a £615m penalty as part of a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA).

Risk managers should select a specialist D&O insurance broker when seeking coverage. W Denis has a long history in arranging Management Liability Insurance for all types of organisations from start-ups, to global public companies. For a quotation please contact mark.dutton@wdenis.com or arrange an appointment via Daniel.moss@wdenis.co.uk

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Mark Dutton

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E. mark.dutton@wdenis.co.uk

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