August 14, 2018

Class action suit against Steinhoff

 

On behalf of all investors in Steinhoff, the recently fallen retail holdings company, a strategic collective of law firms has applied for a class-action lawsuit against more than 30 of the current and former directors of Steinhoff. The lawsuit will claim for damages suffered by investors and could potentially run for as much as R185 Billion.

The application is brought before the High Court in Johannesburg by LHL Attorneys in Johannesburg, Bynkershoek Dispute Resolution in the Netherlands and TILP Litigation in Germany. Notably, LHL Attorneys was the first firm to seek damages on behalf of people who contracted listeriosis from Tiger Brands’ processed meat products. Zain Lundell, from LHL Attorneys, has been quoted stating that the proceedings will be held in South Africa due to the fact that South Africa has a reliable and well-established legal system and provides for legislation that will allow aggrieved parties to be fairly compensated for their losses.

Further, South African procedure for class actions allows all investors to automatically be included in the class-action suit, with the option to remove themselves, if they wish. This is in contrast with the German and Dutch procedure which would have required all investors to individually and formally include themselves. Using the South African procedure ensures that all investors, large and small, are protected during these proceedings and can recover their losses.

These 3 law firms have chosen to work collectively on this class action lawsuit because Steinhoff was originally incorporated in South Africa, thereafter in the Netherlands as well being listed on both the Frankfurt Stock Exchange and the JSE. Working collectively provides a seamless solution for all aggrieved investors to recover the losses suffered. The litigating trio has named the following as defendants:

 

  1. Steinhoff International Holdings NV (Dutch Incorporation)
  2. Steinhoff International Holdings (The original South-African incorporation)
  3. ABSA (South Africa)
  4. Commerzbank (Germany)
  5. Standard Chartered Bank (UK)
  6. Deloitte (Auditors)
  7. Rödle & Partner (Auditors)

In addition, more than 30 current and former directors as well as subsidiaries have been named as respondents.

Due to the monetary value as well as the complexity and cross-jurisdictional efforts of the litigating firms, this stands to be one of the biggest and most interesting cases South African courts have had to preside over and I am sure members of the legal profession will follow the case closely and with great interest.

 

Challen Engelbrecht
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