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Paul Hastings and Covington lead raft of US firms advising embattled BA execs in $300m price-fixing case

A raft of firms have bagged roles advising British Airways (BA) executives caught up in the price-fixing scandal which saw the airline agree to pay $300m (£149m) in fines to the Department of Justice (DoJ) last week (23 August).

Sullivan & Cromwell – BA’s regular US adviser – is advising and has instructed a number of firms to represent 10 past and present BA executives.

The firms include Paul Hastings Janofsky & Walker, Covington & Burling and New York firms Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler, Clayman & Rosenberg and litigation boutique Morvillo Abramowitz Grand Iason Anello & Bohrer.

Sullivan, whose team is being led by Washington DC-based managing partner Daryl Libow, referred the work to different firms in order to ensure they could have their individual interests represented. The employees, who are due to be publicly named by the end of the month, could be subject to a criminal probe in the US by the DoJ for roles in the price-fixing cartel.

The national carrier, which was previously fined £121.5m by the UK’s Office of Fair Trading after admitting to holding illegal talks with rival group Virgin in a bid to fix the prices of fuel surcharges, has been advised in the UK by Slaughter and May, with competition partner William Sibree leading the team.

It is thought the DoJ could have fined BA as much as $900m (£451m) but reduced the cost due to the airline’s cooperation with its investigation.

However, in addition to criminal charges, BA is also facing class actions on both sides of the Atlantic. Cohen Milstein Hausfeld & Toll, which set up a London practice earlier this year, is spearheading the actions, which are currently in court-controlled mediation in the US.

Cohen Milstein London head Rob Murray said: “We are currently laying down the groundwork for any action which may need to be taken over here, should mediation in the US not lead to settlement of all claims.”

He added: “This demonstrates why Cohen Milstein set up in London: for cases like these, which require a transatlantic solution.”

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