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Lawyer says Bridgecorp action no 'witch hunt'

An Auckland-based law firm is looking to take legal action against advisers who recommended their clients put money into failed finance company Bridgecorp.

Monday, 8 October 2007
Takapuna-based Turner Hopkins is advertising for people who "lost money in Bridgecorp" and "were advised to invest in Bridgecorp by a financial adviser or other professional".

It says advisers had a duty to take care when providing advice and "may now be liable for your losses."

Turner Hopkins senior associate Andrew Hooker was reluctant to discuss the advertisement when contacted by Good Returns.

The firm's ad says "we are a law firm with expertise in financial services," however Hooker says they haven't done a case like this previously.

The firm's website says Hooker "has represented most major insurance companies and many brokers and advisers in all New Zealand Courts from the District Court to the Court of Appeal, and provided product and commercial advice across most sectors of the industry."

Hooker didn't want to discuss how many advisers or clients may be involved in any case other than to say "we have a number of clients who are considering whether they have a claim against advisers."

He wouldn't give any further details or elaborate on what he was doing.

"I'm not going to discuss this," he said.

Hooker says the proposed action was not about publicity for him or the firm.

Nor was it a "witch hunt on advisers".

"We're out there to help our clients."

However, former Bridgecorp business development manager Andy Harris has a different view.

In an email to Turner Hopkins he said: "As Bridgecorp had an investment grade rating from PIR when it collapsed I can't see any possibility of successful legal action against the financial advisers. For you to win you would have to prove in court that even though the ratings agency said Bridgecorp was investment grade and the auditors, trustee, accountants and industry watchdogs could find nothing wrong, financial planners, who do not claim to be research analysts, should somehow be liable.

"You appear to be trying to inflict further financial suffering on investors who are already suffering due to the Bridgecorp collapse by making them fund futile legal action and this is highly irresponsible of you."

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