The former owners of Liverpool Football Club can pursue multimillion-pound damage claims over the club’s sale but not in the US, following the High Court’s amendment of the terms of an existing order.
US businessmen Tom Hicks and George Gillett were at the centre of an extraordinary courtroom battle last October as they attempted to block the £300m sale of Liverpool to New England Sports Ventures, owner of the Boston Red Sox baseball team.
The sale went through after Royal Bank of Scotland, principal lender to the club, obtained an injunction to restrain Mr Hicks and Mr Gillett from pursuing claims in a Texas court.
Earlier this month, Mr Hicks and Mr Gillett returned to the High Court to argue that the terms of the “anti-suit” injunction were too wide and effectively blocked them from pursuing future claims for damages over the sale.
On Thursday, the High Court ruled the injunction should stay in force but should be amended to allow the men to make applications in the US to support legal proceedings in the UK, provided they give seven days’ notice to third parties they wanted to sue.
The ruling effectively means the two men can now make applications for information in the US courts but cannot begin legal action outside the EU without the permission of the High Court. Mr Justice Floyd said: “The former owners have already started two sets of [legal] proceedings and openly asserted their intention to start more. They will undoubtedly start more proceedings if allowed to do so.”
Liverpool said it would “defend vigorously any litigation threatened or commenced by the club’s former owners”.