Thirteen years have passed since the liquidators of the Bank of Credit and Commerce International began their suit against the Bank of England.
The case finally came to court in January 2004. And now it has collapsed, after the two sides racked up legal bills of more than £100 million.
It might not have lasted quite as long as Jarndyce v Jarndyce in Charles Dickens’ epic novel Bleak House – but the BCCI case has been hugely more expensive, earning millions for some of the country’s top barristers.
The liquidators had accused the Bank of England of leaving an “unsupervised monster on the loose” after BCCI collapsed in 1991, leaving creditors owed more than £9bn ($16bn). They sued the Bank for £850m. Bank officials, they said, had been acting in bad faith.
Throughout the case successive governors of the Bank have steadfastly rejected the allegations, accusing the liquidators Deloitte of launching a costly and wasteful action.
Now the Bank – which usually speaks in the most coded and measured language – is celebrating what it describes as the “unconditional surrender” of its opponent.