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Class action firms trade insults
Do lawyers have ‘agility anxiety’?:

Class action firms trade insults

Levitt Robinson and Slater & Gordon continue to take pot-shots at each other over the resolution scheme in place for Storm Financial clients.Levitt Robinson issued a statement last night…

Levitt Robinson and Slater & Gordon continue to take pot-shots at each other over the resolution scheme in place for Storm Financial clients.

Levitt Robinson issued a statement last night accusing Slater & Gordon of doing the Commonwealth Bank's bidding and distributing misleading information.

This is the latest shot the Sydney based firm has fired off at Slater & Gordon since it initiated a class action on behalf of disgruntled Storm Financial investors on 2 July. Back then, Stewart Levitt, a principal at Levitt Robinson, criticised the agreement Slater & Gordon had previously negotiated with the Commonwealth Bank as providing the CBA with a "shelter", leaving investors heavily exposed.

The release issued by Levitt Robinson yesterday accused Slater & Gordon of making false claims that Levitt's actions would not cover people who invested their money in Storm-badged Indexed Funds administered by Challenger.

Levitt Robinson also said that statements by Slater & Gordon "sound like it is speaking for the Bank", and that a recent bulletin put out by the firm is "an exercise in scare mongering directed to frightening borrowers".

"The approach Slater & Gordon took with the CBA was a Vichy French approach, while I took the Gaullist approach," Levitt told Lawyers Weekly. "I am not a collaborator."

Levitt admitted that he can "be bellicose and court controversy", but he was motivated to act in his clients best interests. He estimates that he has around 300 to 400 clients involved in his class action.

"We reject any claims regarding our independence," Ben Hardwick, Slater & Gordon's commercial and projects group leader, told Lawyers Weekly.

Slater & Gordon issued its own statement to Lawyers Weekly that said it continues to act for the vast majority of Storm CBA clients in the Bank's Resolution Scheme, and that the best way to deal with claims against the CBA is "through the Resolution Scheme rather than expensive and drawn out litigation".

Levitt Robinson's latest release was directed at clients concerned by recent actions of the CBA, with the Bank attempting to block the firm representing borrowers in the CBA Resolution Scheme.

Levitt Robinson has referred the matter for dispute resolution, accusing the Bank of engaging in unlawful conduct.

"I can't imagine that a court would believe your opposition can choose your legal representation," Levitt said. "Apart from breaching trade practices principles, it would set an ugly precedent."

The CBA has labelled Levitt Robinson's class action as "premature" and has said that it will contest the claim in full and "regrets that customers who pursue this litigation face considerable uncertainty".

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