Former Liverpool owner Tom Hicks was given the chance today to launch massive damages claims over the sale of the Premier League club after orders barring action in the US were varied by a High Court judge in London.
American Hicks wanted Mr Justice Floyd to lift anti-suit orders which prevented him taking action in the Texas courts to halt the deal in which he claims he lost £140m.
The judge dismissed that application but varied the anti-suit injunction to allow Mr Hicks to make applications in the US in support of any proceedings in the UK if he gives seven days notice to the parties he is suing.
Mr Hicks believes he was the victim of an “epic swindle” when the club was sold against his wishes to New England Sports Ventures for £300m.
Mr Justice Floyd also dismissed an application to strike out or stay claims by Sir Martin Broughton, former chairman of the club, seeking damages against Mr Hicks for his actions while owner.
New England Sports Ventures’ application to be allowed to join the Broughton action was granted by the judge.
NESV bought the club after repaying a £237m loan Mr Hicks and his former partner George Gillett took out with the Royal Bank of Scotland and Wells Fargo and Co.
Mr Justice Floyd, in his ruling today, said the sale of Liverpool came about because of Mr Hicks and Mr Gillett's indebtedness.
As the repayment date for the loan approached, Broughton arranged a board meeting last October to consider two offers, both of which were opposed by the former owners.
The US pair purported to remove some of the English directors of the club and replace them with their own men.
Broughton went ahead with a board meeting which included the original directors and accepted the offer from Sports Ventures.
The judge said the former owners then sought a temporary restraining order in Texas “expressly aimed at stopping the sale”.
It was then that he said he allowed an anti-suit injunction “on the basis of what appeared to me to be the unconscionable conduct of the former owners in seeking to undermine the English proceedings”.
Of his decision not to discharge the anti-suit injunction, he said: “The reality of the situation is that the former owners have already started two sets of proceedings and openly asserted their intention to start more.
“They will undoubtedly start more proceedings if allowed to do so. There is a real threat that those proceedings will be in the United States.”
Of the application to vary the anti-suit order, he said the former owners should be free to be able to make applications in the US courts that would aid proceedings in the UK.
Liverpool have expressed their satisfaction with the court’s decision.
In a statement they said: “Last week a further hearing took place as part of the ongoing litigation following the successful sale of the club in October 2010 to NESV.
“We are delighted that Mr Justice Floyd has granted the applications requested by Sir Martin Broughton, RBS and NESV and that the anti-suit injunction prohibiting the former owners from commencing legal actions against these parties outside the EU has been upheld and clarified.
“Sir Martin, RBS and NESV continue to maintain that there is no basis to challenge the propriety or validity of any actions by them or any of those involved on their behalf in the sale of the club.
“They will continue to take all steps necessary to defend vigorously any litigation threatened or commenced by the club’s former owners.”