Class action lawyers to fight over GetSwift

17th April 2018

More class action lawyers are piling onto GetSwift over the alleged breach of continuous disclosure rules but one class action is likely to go ahead.
On Friday, boutique shareholder class action law firm Phi Finney McDonald filed a class action against GetSwift, with funding from Therium Australia.

This means there are now three separate shareholder class actions filed against the ASX-listed GetSwift, including the one filed by Squire Patton Boggs and another filed by Corrs Chambers Westgarth. Quinn Emanuel is defending GetSwift.

On Tuesday GetSwift shares were trading at $0.465, down nearly 90 per cent from the December high of $4.60 around the time when the company announced a deal with Amazon.

But Justice Michael Lee of the Federal Court said at a case management hearing on Friday that GetSwift should face only one class action case.

“I think we can say we’ve crossed the Rubicon that I am persuaded that you won’t be vexed with multiple proceedings,” Justice Lee said to GetSwift’s barrister Alan Shearer last week.

“It’s a question of what goes forward,” he said.

‘I’m a bargain’

Peter Brereton, SC, who is acting for the Corrs class action, said the claim was estimated to be worth between $120 million and $140 million and about 200 people have signed up to the action.

Squire Patton Boggs’ class action barrister William Edwards said the claim was estimated to be between $75 million and $100 million, with 100 people signed up to the action.

International Litigation Partners, which is funding the Squire Patton Boggs class action, would take a 22.5 per cent commission on the settlement sum, Mr Edwards said.

Squire Patton Boggs in its initial media announcement in February “estimates that the total claim size may exceed $300 million”, although Mr Edwards denied that was the case and blamed the media for publishing the figure.

“There’s no evidence about whether or not that was in fact an accurate record […] the press likes to exaggerate these things,” he said on Friday.

The court heard on Friday the Phi Finney McDonald’s partners working on the case had a charge-out rate of $737 an hour, compared to $962 at Corrs and $1045 for Squire Patton Boggs’ Amanda Banton.

“We’re, by far, the least expensive,” Phi Finney McDonalds’ class action barrister David Collins, QC, said.

When Justice Lee asked whether Mr Collins’ personal rates were “marginally more expensive than a partner at Corrs but significantly cheaper than Ms Banton’s”, Mr Collins quipped: “I’m a bargain. Everyone knows that.”

The class actions and an Australian Securities and Investments Commission investigation of the company were triggered by an investigation in The Australian Financial Review into GetSwift’s market announcements and failure to disclose contract losses.

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