Tuesday, June 30, 2009

無端端打官司

去年爆發的金融海嘯仍未斷尾,各行各業均受打擊,其中法律服務行業並非處處好景,像英國國家統計處發現,08年從事法律行業的人數已大減1.67萬名至27.98萬名,減幅達5.6%,更悲的是,有人力資源機構預測在兩年間,將有多達1萬名律師失去飯碗,對比8.3萬名律師計,即隨時每9名就有1名陷入失業狀況。

可知道單是商業法律服務,每年為英國經濟貢獻150億英鎊(約1,925億港元)之多,主要為房地產、收購合併、槓桿貸款,以及私募基金等提供法律服務,但如果市場無法復甦,交易自然會有所下降,律師生意定必相應減少。

不過,另一類律師則可能受惠,且看資深投資界朋友近日拿著一疊文件同禤中怡講,話要打官司,初聽之下,以為雷曼迷債事件翻版,累他投資中伏?抑或遇到不公平待遇,實行拿真金白銀和人家對著幹?可知道法庭見面,並非必勝的,分分鐘賠了夫人又折兵,況且對手更是美林(Merrill Lynch)。

幸好,望清楚份文件,原來是Class Action,所謂集體訴訟,簡單而言,即律師幫大批同病相憐的人士打官司,爭取權益。這種集體訴訟制度在香港似乎未有著落,在美國就很普遍,有律師更協助受害人打官司,等獲勝訴賠償後才收取費用,受害人隨時不用額外付鈔。

引發這宗集體訴訟的原因,是律師認為美林未有適當披露有關其次級按揭抵押證券及相關資產有關,更數算美林在07年10月為這些資產撇帳後,08年1月又撇帳160億美元(約1,248億港元),08年8月第二季再撇帳57億美元(約444.6億港元)等,累投資美林的股東蒙受損失。至於朋友所涉的訴訟,則準備向美林尋求和解涉款高達4.75億美元(約37億港元),即勝訴的話,合資格的美林普通股股東可以每股分到0.881美元(約6.87港元),即使持有優先股,也可每股獲0.165美元(約1.287港元)。如果持有1萬股普通股,便可獲8,810美元(約6.8萬港元),都算是一份驚喜吧!

當然,這筆款項並非全部可以落袋,因為律師不是義工,所以講明,獲賠償的金額中,律師要收回其中約7.82%作為律師費用,假設賠償額等同要求的和解金額,即可得到最高約3,712.5萬美元(約2.89億港元),並且要收取有關訴訟的相關支出,預期金額將不超過250萬美元(約1,950萬港元),兩條數一加,隨時有逾3億港元落袋,試問怎不落力。至於受影響的普通股股東將每股少收0.073美元,但仍有逾0.8美元收,也不太差吧!

朋友話,自己其實確在有關時間買賣美林證券,當時亦要損手離場,直至今日方知可能受隱瞞披露所拖累,幸好妥善收好單據,本來作為警惕自己下次投資要加倍謹慎,難得有人出頭,可以爭取賠償,希望他日收回數千美元,作為安慰獎,所以快快大筆一揮,簽名加入集體訴訟行列,實行同金融大行比併一番。

(6月30日刊於《am730》)

11 Comments:

At 12:40 PM, Blogger 若缺齋老人 said...

現行制度下香港好難同帝國同業比,除非放寬包攬訴訟及Contingency Fee Arrangement。

 
At 4:32 PM, Blogger greatsoup said...

若有包攬訴訟的話,香港法律行業的增長可能會恢復上升勢頭。

 
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