UKSA Action Group: Northern Rock

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Northern Rock Shareholder Action Group

Calling all former Northern Rock Depositors
It is almost 5 years since our TV screens and newspapers were filed with pictures of the queues outside Northern Rock branches.
There is a building media interest on how the past 5 years has worked out for those involved in the ‘Rock whether employee, shareholder, depositor or even all three. BBC Newsnight are looking to speak to former savers in Northern Rock who stood in those queues five years ago to look at how the last 5 years as turned out for them in the aftermath of the credit crunch. If you were were one of them please contact Joe Lynam who is the BBC’s Correspondent for Newsnight and can be contacted at joe.lynam@bbc.co.uk. Ideally Joe is looking to speak to people in Northern Rock’s heartland in the North East.

Update 73 issued in August 2012 is available to download at the bottom of this page.

The UK Shareholders Association has been running a Shareholders Action Group to promote the interests of Northern Rock Shareholders since September 2007. We are now primarily campaigning for fair compensation for the confiscation of the shares (i.e. the shares you held in Northern Rock) and a summary of our case is given below.

If you wish to register your interest in this campaign then please contact the following: email: northern.rock@uksa.org.uk Northern Rock Shareholder Action Group
UK Shareholders Association, Chislehurst Business Centre, 1 Bromley Lane, Chislehurst, BR7 6LH
Although none of the following is essential (other than a name) it would help to provide the following information: Name, Email address, Telephone number, Postal address and Number of shares held. Any such information will be held in confidence by UKSA and will be used to communicate with you to provide further information as it becomes available. Please make sure you mention "Northern Rock" in the title of your email.

Note that it may take several days to acknowledge your email due to the volume of inquiries we are getting on this subject. Please send an email rather than try to telephone us for the same reason.

For general inquiries on this campaign contact: Chris Hulme, Co-Chair, UKSA Northern Rock Shareholders Action Group (email: northern.rock@uksa.org.uk )

The Basis of Our Case. In our view the UK Government have confiscated the shares even though there was a good private sector solution on the table that would have enabled the company to recover and to repay the debts it owed to the Bank of England.

They have promised to pay some compensation but have rigged the basis of the valuation of the shares so that shareholders are likely to get very little or nothing (newspapers have been suggesting it could be as little as 5 pence per share and we also believe it will be a negligible figure).

Why have they done this and how? The reason they have done this is apparently because they have deduced that it offers “better value” to the Government to acquire the shares for a pittance, and then sell off the company after a period of “temporary public ownership” to the highest bidder. Note that there is no commitment to give back to former shareholders any interest in the company when it is subsequently sold, so you will not benefit from any recovery in the business.

Rigging the Independent Valuation. How has the Government rigged the compensation terms? They have set the terms of reference for the independent valuation by specifying that the following assumptions (amongst others) should apply:

a) that the company is unable to continue as a going concern; and

b) that the company is in administration.

These “assumptions” clearly did not apply when the nationalisation took place. The company was not in administration, and was trading normally and as a going concern (as Ministers have repeatedly said in Parliament and elsewhere). Such terms of reference for the valuation of any company are likely to result in a negligible valuation. In addition the selection of the valuers is solely at the discretion of the Treasury and there is no guarantee that they will be unbiased and impartial.

The Government Benefiting from its Own Actions. It is a general principle followed in commercial disputes that anyone who damages the value of a business should not benefit as a result in any subsequent valuation of that business. But here the Government and its agencies caused many of the problems that Northern Rock faced.

A Legal Challenge is Justifiable. We consider the valuation approach to be unlawful, immoral and unethical and we believe that the Government should not gain by being able to purchase the company cheaply as a result of its own actions. There are good grounds to pursue legal action to challenge many aspects of this process and the likely compensation that will be offered.

We believe that shareholders have a prima facie case that their human rights have been violated under the Human Rights Act 1998 and the European Convention on Human Rights. In particular, the Act and the Convention protect rights in property from the type of action which has been taken by the Government here. An application for a Judicial Review of these issues on behalf of some of the private investors and the two main institutional shareholders was considered in the High Court in January 2009 and although the application was rejected, the case was taken to appeal in June 2009.

In our view a proper, independent valuation of this business when it was acquired by the Government might produce a figure of more like £5 than 5 pence per share, which gives you a measure of how much compensation we believe shareholders should be asking for as opposed to what the Government wishes to pay. However, please note that we do not wish to prejudge any valuation as not all the necessary financial information is available to us at this time – all we ask is that the valuation should be done on a normal commercial basis with shareholders and the Government being able to make submissions about the factors that might affect the conclusion. But it is certainly not natural justice that a buyer of any business should dictate the terms of reference for the determination of the purchase price.

Legal Action Fund. We estimate that there are over 150,000 private individuals who have been affected by this matter. We are therefore asking everyone who was a shareholder in Northern Rock to register their interest in this legal challenge and contribute 2p per share (or as much as they can afford). Go to this page for more details of the appeal: Appeal or simply go here to donate: Donation

Please donate to this fund if you have not already done so. We really do need contributions from everyone if we are to obtain justice for shareholders.

The picture below is of shareholders at a meeting held by UKSA in Newcastle in November 2007 (for more photos of events organised by UKSA see Photos).

Latest information (in chronological order from 17/2/2008 - latest at bottom). As the company has now been nationalised, making a lot of our past comments only of academic interest, we have moved them to a separate page which is here: NorthernRock_Past.

THE NATIONALISATION OF NORTHERN ROCK. (17/2/2008). UKSA has issued the following press release following the announcement by the Government that Northern Rock is to be nationalised: Press058_NRK_Nationalisation. Soon after we issued the following note: Update_24

FAIR COMPENSATION NOT BEING OFFERED. On 20/2/2008 we issued the following note (and later extended it on 24/2/2008) about the terms of the compensation to shareholders and our commitment to pursue legal action to obtain some redress: Update_25 . This note was issued on 2/3/2008 concerning various aspects of the current position: Update_26. The following note was issued on 7/3/2008 about the forthcoming debate in Parliament of the Compensation Order: Update_27 and this note was issued after those debates: Update_28

PRESS CONFERENCE TO ANNOUNCE NEWS ON LEGAL ACTION AND APPEAL LAUNCH. On the 19th March UKSA held a press conference in London and we subsequently issued the following note: Update_29. This gives more details of the basis of our legal challenge to the Compensation Order and how we intend to promote this campaign and raise funds to fight this issue. Some photographs taken at the press conference and of our activities in the North East are present at: Press_Conference. Update 30 covered the FSA review of its activities on Northern Rock and other news.

2007 RESULTS AND STATUS ON LEGAL ACTION. This note was issued following publication of the accounts for 2007: Update_31, and this note was issued on the 20th April to bring supporters up to date with the latest news: Update_32. Following rejection by the Government of our submission on the unfairness of the compensation terms, we issued the following press release confirming that legal action will be proceeded with: Press061. We also issued the following note concerning the recent funding of other banks: Press060 and sent a letter to Alistair Darling requesting an inquiry into the leak that prompted the run at Northern Rock: Darling_Letter_30042008. A summary of recent news was issued in Update_33. The following press release was issued on the 8th May when the application for a judicial review was filed: Press062 and Update_34 was issued to our supporters.

RAB AND LEGAL & GENERAL SUPPORT THE LEGAL ACTION. The following note was issued following the filing for a judicial review by RAB Capital and the stated support of Legal & General: Update_35 . A further brief update was issued in Update_36 on the 8th June. Update_37 was issued on the 18th June.

PUBLIC MEETINGS FOR SHAREHOLDERS. The following note was issued to advise shareholders of the meetings planned for the 17th and 26th July in Newcastle and London: Update_38. A further update to shareholders, including reviews of books recently published on Northern Rock was issued in: Update_39. A copy of the presentation given at the meetings by Roger Lawson is present at: Meeting_Presentation and a report on the meetings and other recent news is in Update_40 .

COMMENTS ON INTERIM RESULTS. Comments on the Northern Rock interim financial results (which shows exactly why nationalisation was not justified) and the status of our campaign were issued in this note: Update_41 . A review of recent press articles and other news was issued as: Update_42

APPOINTMENT OF VALUER AND OTHER NEWS. This note was issued concerning the appointment of a valuer and other recent news on the 12th September: Update_43. Some comments on recent press and television coverage plus other news is given in: Update_44 . The latest news on the recovery of Northern Rock, a meeting for shareholders in London and campaign status was issued in Update_45 .

Many shareholders have received a letter from the Valuer, Andrew Caldwell, appointed by the Government. A copy is present here: Valuers_Letter (a pdf document). The response by UKSA to the Valuers letter is given in the following document: Response . We asked people to submit their own responses to Mr Caldwell in the following note: Update_46. Typical examples of some of the many letters already submitted by our supporters is present in: Harris_Letter and Coates_Letter.

COURT HEARING AND PUBLIC DEMONSTRATIONS. The following note was issued on the 20th December concerning the opening of the Court hearing on the 13th January, the events we have organised to coincide with that, and other recent news: Update_47 . This press release was also issued concerning those events: Press075 followed by Update_48 .

JUDICIAL REVIEW REPORT AND JUDGEMENT. For a report on the Judicial Review proceedings, go to this page: Judicial Review (summarised in this note to shareholders: Update_49). See Update_50 for a report on the Treasury Committee interviews of the media and other news. A note on the judgement (our application was rejected) is present in this note: Update_51 and we have subsequently issued Update_52 which explains in more detail the current legal position and our need to raise more funds. A report on the financial position of this campaign is present in this document: Financial_Report_Feb2009.

Comments on the 2008 financial results of Northern Rock were issued in this note: Update_53. Other news was issued on the 20th March in this note: Update_54. A report on our meeting with the independent valuer is present in this note: Update_55

APPEAL HEARING DATE SET AND POSSIBLE SALE OF NORTHERN ROCK. This note was issued about the appeal hearing of the judicial review, the press reports of the possible sale or break-up of the company, and the comments of Jon Wood: Update_56. Subsequently this note was issued confirming the appeal date: Update_57 and this press release was issued the day before the appeal hearing: Press084 with this note as a reminder to supporters: Update_58

APPEAL HEARING REPORT. A report on the Appeal of the Judicial Review is present on this web page: Judicial_Review_Appeal. This and other news was covered in Update_59

APPEAL HEARING DECISION. On the 28th July the Appeal Court announced their decision on the judicial review appeal. They rejected the appeal. We will provide information on possible future steps (there is likely to be a further appeal, probably to the European Courts) in due course. The Appeal Court judgment is analysed in this report along with other recent news: Update_60 - it also includes a reference to the latest campaign financial report which is at: Financial_Report_Jul2009

INTERIM RESULTS, CAPITAL RESTRUCTURING AND SUBORDINATED DEBT. The following note was issued on the 21st August containing recent news, and a review of a book that covers well the history of events at Northern Rock: Update_61

LETTER TO INDEPENDENT VALUER. As it is now over a year since the independent valuer, Mr Caldwell, was appointed and with no signs of a valuation being published, we have sent this letter to him: Caldwell_Letter

FURTHER APPEAL FILED. On the 7th October 2009, this newsletter was issued concerning the filing of an appeal to the Supreme Court and including more news on the valuation status: Update_62

SUPREME COURT APPEAL AND THE SPLIT OF NORTHERN ROCK. The following note contains information on the Supreme Court appeal and the proposed split of Northern Rock into "good" and "bad" banks: Update_63 . It also contains some interesting information on the position of foreign investors.

NEW CHAIRMEN FOR THIS GROUP, VALUATION RESULT AND SUPREME COURT DECISION. The note Update_64 contains information on the decision by the independent valuer which is that there should be no compensation for shareholders. Soon after we also issued this press release which covers the rejection of the appeal to the UK Supreme Court: Press_Release_Supreme_Court_Decision. Note that the case will now be taken to the European Court of Human Rights - this is likely to take many months if not years.

UPDATE ON LEGAL CASE: APPLICATION TO EUROPEAN COURT OF HUMAN RIGHTS. Update_65 explains that the submission to the European Court of Human Rights is now expected to made early in 2010. Shareholders are encouraged to write letters to their MPs and to the independent valuer. Demonstrations are being planned for April/May 2010 to mark the two years since the nationalisation of Northern Rock on 21 February.

RESPONSE TO NORTHERN ROCK VALUER'S FINAL ASSESSMENT NOTICE. Reconsideration sought as the case goes to the European Court of Human Rights. Andrew Caldwell announced his unsurprising decision to value the former shareholding in Northern Rock as worthless. Press release 30/03/10.

RESPONSE TO NORTHERN ROCK DIRECTORS FINED BY FSA - Vindication of the 'unfairness' claim of small shareholders. Were the former Directors of this prestigious bank all to blame for its downfall and will fairness prevail? Press release 14/04/10.

NORTHERN ROCK VALUER'S FINAL ASSESSMENT NOTICE - Mr Caldwell reiterates his nil valuation figure to the dismay of small shareholders. Action you can take to represent your views to Mr Caldwell and your respective MPs. Update 66

TEMPLATE LETTER - IN RESPONSE TO ANDREW CALDWELL Letter April 2010

OPEN LETTER TO PROSPECTIVE PARLIAMENTARY PARTIES - Representations to the 'new' government to put aside the hype and spin to question the unfairness. UKSA Open Letter - Leaders and Chancellors.

UPDATE ON LEGAL CASE: APPLICATION TO EUROPEAN COURT OF HUMAN RIGHTS. Update 67 explains that the submission of the Small Shareholders case has now been presented to the ECHR in Strasbourg.

UKSA OPEN LETTER TO CHANCELLOR AND TSC. UKSA Open Letter to Chancellor and TSC

UPDATE ON VALUATION: ANDREW CALDWELL WRITES NOTHING NEW. Update 68

FORM FTC31 TO THE UPPER TRIBUNAL - DEADLINE 28TH OCTOBER 2010. Update 69 . Explains Form FTC31 and gives a template to help with filling in the form Template FTC31.

UPDATE ON VALUATION PROCESS AND LEGAL CASE IN THE ECHR. Update 70 explains the latest news on the submissions to The Upper Tribunal and the feedback on timescales for the Small Shareholders case presented to the ECHR in Strasbourg in summer 2010.

Northern Rock for Sale?
Update 71 outlines our response to the news the government is considering a sale of Northern Rock.

Upper Tribunal Decision Announced
Update 72 disappointment for former shareholders from the ruling.

Northern Rock sold to Virgin
The NRSAG has been keeping track of the progress on this and have issued a Press Release on the sale of NRK to Virgin. This transaction has no bearing on whether the shareholders will receive any compensation, the only real solution from here is for the legal case being heard in the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) to be successful.

European Court of Human Rights non decision!
"Disappointment and stunned amazement for shareholders". Download Update 73 here.

Press release from Denis Grainger 1st August 2012
Download here.