F1 teams sue Linklaters and B&M for bad advice

Linklaters and Baker & McKenzie(B&M) are facing negligence claims that could run into millions of pounds over advice they gave to two Formula 1 (F1) motor racing teams.

Accordingtocourt documents served in 2004, in 1997 Williams Grand Prix Engineering and McLaren Racing retained Linklaters andB&Mrespectively to advise on an agreement with F1 head honcho Bernie Ecclestone, which the teams claim was intended to give them an interest in the sale of F1s commercial and media rights.

The disposal is understood to relate to Ecclestones sale of a 75 per cent stake in SLEC Holding, the parent company of Formula One Holdings, which governs the sport.

In 1999, Morgan Grenfell Private Equity agreed to buy a 12.5 per cent stake in the parent for 203m and obtained an option to buy a further 37.5 per cent for 609m. The claim form states that the law firms acted negligently when negotiating and preparing the agreement, and that when the disposal took place the teams did not receive a share of the proceeds. Commercial rights generate around 400m annually.

The two F1 teams instructed PinsentspartnerDavid Lancaster, a professional negligence expert, to bring the claim.

Williams and Linklaters declined to comment. B&M and McLaren were unavailable for comment.