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Sydney firm attacks CBA and Slaters

Sydney firm attacks CBA and Slaters

Levitt Robinson has accused Slater & Gordon of trying to poach its clients, while also making accusations that the Commonwealth Bank (CBA) is divulging the details of confidential…

Levitt Robinson has accused Slater & Gordon of trying to poach its clients, while also making accusations that the Commonwealth Bank (CBA) is divulging the details of confidential discussions with regard to the firm's class action against the Bank.

An open letter penned by the firm's principal, Stewart Levitt, accuses both Slater & Gordon and the CBA of attempting to influence or pressure Levitt Robinson clients to leave his firm and return to Slater & Gordon.

In a statement to Lawyers Weekly, Slater & Gordon denied ever putting pressure on Storm victims to deal in a particular way with claims against the CBA.

"Given that independent evaluation and arbitration are features of the scheme, Slater & Gordon has always maintained the best way to deal with claims against the CBA is through the Resolution Scheme rather than drawn out litigation," the firm said.

The class action initiated by Levitt Robinson is next due in the Federal Court for Case Management on 22 October.

Levitt Robinson filed a Federal Court claim on 1 July against the CBA and Colonial First State Investment on behalf of Storm Financial investors. At the time, Levitt claimed the negotiated settlement by Slater & Gordon, acting on behalf of Storm investors, and the Commonwealth Bank in February was inadequate. He has since accused Slater & Gordon of "doing the Bank's bidding" and leaving investors heavily exposed.

Levitt released the letter last Friday (13 August) to coincide with the First Directions Hearing before Justice Emmett in this matter. On the same day, Levitt Robinson filed the first Statement of Claim in the Federal Court on behalf of an individual Storm/CBA victim.

In the letter, addressed to CBA chief executive Ralph Norris, Levitt accuses Norris of divulging the contents of confidential discussions between Levitt and representatives of the Bank, including its senior legal counsel, Charles Tilley, in an interview with the Courier Mail last week.

Levitt also accuses Norris of making statements that are "neither accurate nor in fact, contextually true".

He goes on to accuse the CBA and Slater & Gordon of "seeking to influence or pressure Levitt Robinson clients to leave Levitt Robinson - to return to Slater & Gordon".

"If CBA and Slater & Gordon could achieve this outcome, the joint proposals crafted by Slater & Gordon and CBA, as reflecting the low end price which CBA would be happy to pay to buy Storm Borrowers' claims against the bank, might well be accepted without further negotiation or litigation: My clients resistance would then have been broken," Levitt said in the letter.

Levitt told Lawyers Weekly that the class action his firm is running has attracted "a few hundred investors" and that its number could swell to include over 500 people.

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Sydney firm attacks CBA and Slaters
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