3,200 Americans were among the victims when Lloyd's of London perpetrated
the largest admitted fraud in history (approximately $20 billion). These American
investors were subsequently deprived of their Constitutional right to due
process when they attempted to offset Lloyd's collection efforts with allegations
of fraud. When these investors entered claims in U.S. courts, their cases
against Lloyd's were sent to be heard in England instead. The British courts,
however, sidestepped the substantive issues of fraud and executed summary
judgments based on procedural grounds, ruling in favor of Lloyd's for millions
of pounds. The British courts denied the US investors the right to present
evidence of fraud as a counterclaim, or even the right to force Lloyd's to
prove the exaggerated amounts Lloyd's claimed to be due.
more than half of those Americans either fought, themselves, or lost close
family members, in World War II, which was essentially an effort to defend
the very rights now being denied them.
vs. British Law:
Recent US court
decisions have stated that British law is sufficiently comparable to US law
to ensure that the rights and interests of US citizens will be properly defended
by British courts. What US citizens actually find in English courts, however,
is that they have been stripped of their rights and protections as American
citizens under US law—that in effect, they have been reduced to being British
colonial subjects again.
It is true that
some elements of our law derive from British common law. It is more importantly
true, however, that our nation, and our rights and freedoms, were created
in a rebellion specifically against the injustices of British law,
which law to this day has favored vested interests.
The rights and
freedoms we enjoy did not exist before our American forefathers created them.
Our ancestors revolutionized the spirit, the substance, and hence the very
meaning, of the "law" itself. These "revolutionaries" crafted the Bill of
Rights and the Constitution to give all US citizens—no longer "subjects"—equal
status and equal protection under the law, including equal access to the courts.
Our forefathers then had to go to war to defend the creation of these democratic
principles. The central issue of the Revolutionary War was whether we could
establish our own more fair and equitable system of law and government, or
we would continue to be subjected to the inequities of British law.
To those U.S.
judges who would abandon U.S. citizens to the mercies of Britain's antiquated
legal system, as if it were comparable to our own: those U.S. judges should
re-acquaint themselves with some of the crucial differences in both:
- the spirit,
attitude, and philosophy underlying the laws; and
- the specific
laws and legal procedures of the two countries.
- In Britain,
the "peerage" refers to a titled and privileged class—the "nobility".
- In Britain,
a criminal case against a Lord could traditionally only be heard in the
House of Lords, by his "peers". Commoners have no say in the matter.
- Under United
States law, we are all "peers". Bear in mind that the founders of
our nation were not "lords" extending the law "downward" to also cover "commoners"—as
the nobility might have done in England, but has not. Our forefathers instead,
and intentionally, crafted the Constitution and the Bill of Rights to elevate
every U.S. "Citizen" to a legal status under the law that was enjoyed only
by the peerage in England.
memorialized in the Bill of Rights, in the statement that every American has
the right to trial by a jury of his "peers". The philosophical basis for this
was in our forefathers' express conviction that every man is created in God's
image, and thus equally noble. To this day, the British see themselves as
"subjects" of the Crown, whereas Americans are independent "citizens". The
difference is not just a matter of semantics; it is very real.)
- The British
courts are there to carry out the will of the Establishment, protecting
the interests of the British social and financial oligarchy. [Hot
link to Glossary]
on the other hand, see their courts as a means of keeping the will and power
of the "establishment" in check—to protect the citizen from unfairness—be
it at the hands of another citizen or the government.
and judiciary are part of our constitutional balance of powers, which was
designed to prevent, or failing that, to correct, governmental and/or private
abuses of power.)
- The British
do not have our three-way balance of governmental powers: their "Supreme
Court" consists of "law lords" in their upper legislative body, the House
of Lords, which is made up of "nobility" only. The same people who passed
the laws control how their laws are applied.
- In many cases,
the ultimate success and honor for a British judge is to be elevated to
the House of Lords as a "Law Lord" and thereby join the privileged nobility.
In this small land of Britain, which is run by and for the privileged few,
such class titles are given great importance. The government and the Queen's/King's
Privy Council use the granting of titles, with their attendant privileges,
to keep rising business leaders, public servants, lawyers—and judges—under
- Trial by
jury is not an option in British civil cases, except in libel cases, which
are based on totally different laws than in the US.
aspire to the "success" of being granted a knighthood, or being elevated to
the "peerage", will rarely stand up for unpopular causes or buck establishment
institutions; it would cost them their future title and privileges. In this
social context, it is also of course difficult, if not impossible, to find
a major law firm in Britain that will take a case against a major British
establishment or institution.)
- All complaints,
evidence, affidavits, and other papers filed in British courts are privileged
and remain so unless and until they are referred to in actual trial. In
a settled case, all allegations, evidence, and other materials are forever
sealed. Neither solicitors nor barristers, let alone the public, have access
to them. Only the published decisions are available. This minimizes the
information available from one case to another in the UK.
- In the US,
court proceedings are public record. Anyone can go to the court clerk's
office and look up all the filings in a particular case, from the original
law, the allegations in a case are available to everyone, and may be published
by the news media. The attendant threat of bad publicity has a significant
deterrent effect on potential wrongdoers.)
- Besides having
no access to previous court case material, groups who have been wronged
in Britain find it more difficult to organize for lack of public information.
The press and media, and the public, are muzzled by stringent libel laws,
which require the person who publishes allegations about someone else to
prove beyond a doubt that the allegations are true.
- In U.S. law,
the burden is on the person who claims to have been libeled to show reasonable
proof the published statements were false.
in the UK is much different than it is in the US. The following are some examples:
- British business
law is based on the principle of caveat emptor—"let the buyer beware".
- The US Securities
Acts of 1933 and 1934 include investor protections that are the equivalent
to the covenant of good faith and fair dealing in US contract law. Provisions
in both the 1933 and 1934 Acts unambiguously state that any agreement that
waives those protections and the jurisdiction of U.S. courts is null and
- The Financial
Services Act in England does not apply to companies exempted by Act of Parliament.
Those businesses are "self-regulating".
- In the U.S.,
in stark contrast, a covenant of good faith and fair dealing is included
in every business agreement and transaction as a matter of law.
entering into any transaction with a British entity should be aware of this
difference. A clash of business cultures arises when a British transaction
is offered in the U.S. If a British/US transaction violates U.S. full disclosure
and fair dealing laws, the U.S. citizen can only find recourse if the case
is tried in U.S. courts under U.S. law. Depending on the "proper law"
of the contract, British courts are unwilling to apply the stricter standards
of American law to their own nationals, no matter how justified the American's
complaint may be in terms of United States law.)
- There is
no English equivalent to a U.S contingency case. They are beginning to permit
partial contingency fee arrangements for some British subjects, but a "20
percent contingency" is of no practical use to the ordinary person. Even
assuming he found counsel willing to work his side of the case on "contingency",
the money to pay opposing counsel if the case is lost still has to be deposited
- If foreigners
wish to sue in UK courts, they must put up enough money to cover the anticipated
court costs and legal fees of both the defendant and themselves.
An American or other foreign plaintiff thus has to deposit, in advance,
roughly twice the amount required of a British subject in the same
circumstances. If you don't have that much money, you cannot get into
British civil court. You have to, in effect, "buy" your way into court
in England. Law Society aid is not available in Britain to US citizens or
(In a major
case these required deposit amounts can easily reach £2 million sterling ($3+
million) or more. In the event of an extensive case brought by a foreigner,
these required amounts can be in the tens of millions of dollars.)
- The legal
team required by law in the UK is far more extensive, and expensive, than
in the U.S. One must hire a solicitor, who then hires a barrister, both
of whom must be guaranteed payment, in the form of an advance deposit, by
a U.S. plaintiff. In major cases, the barrister must be a "Queen's Counsel".
Counsel ("QC") is a small "club" of privileged barristers, who charge as much
as one thousand pounds an hour (approximately $1600). Some charge less, but
if the other side hires a high-priced Queen's Counsel, the loser of a case
may find himself paying an inflated bill, and could be financially ruined
on the spot just by his opponent's legal fees.)
- If one has
a criminal complaint against a business in the City of London, one cannot
complain to the world-famous Scotland Yard. The businesses in the "City"
have conveniently established their own police, the London City Fraud Squad.
- Under British
law the plaintiff must have a complete case before starting a lawsuit:
(depositions) before trial are not permitted; and
cannot be subpoenaed to help establish grounds for suit.
(If the plaintiff
does not have all the proof at the outset, the case will not survive the inevitable
motion to dismiss, and he/she will be charged with court costs, all legal
fees, and sanctions.)
- In British
courts, anyone contributing to the legal fees of a losing litigant may be
held liable for any fees not paid by the litigant, if it can be shown that
the donor could somehow have benefited from the success of the litigant.
(British law does not require that the donor be warned of this in advance.)
- One cannot
sue for what American law ordinarily treats as civil fraud in business dealings.
In British civil law, the word "fraud" is reserved for provable criminal-type
fraud, and the plaintiff must have evidence at the same level of proof as
in a criminal trial.
- In Britain
it is possible to exempt a business from suit by its investors (Lloyd's
Act of Parliament of 1982 did just that) without even creating much of a
- In the US,
such an exemption would be a violation of the Bill of Rights and the Constitution,
and certain to be challenged in courts throughout the country. It would
amount to an exemption of that business from the covenant of good faith
and fair dealing that is the foundation of the US Commercial Code.
In sum, sending
Americans to have their case heard in a British court:
the American to put up a fortune to get into court at all;
- Jacks up
the court costs and legal fees to outrageous levels;
- Denies the
plaintiff the right to examine witnesses and subpoena documents in preparation
- Denies them
their right to trial by a jury (of their peers); and
- Strips them
of their protections under the US securities laws, and under the covenant
of good faith and fair dealing in the US Commercial Code.
terms, sending Americans to English courts effectively strips them of
their "peer" status and rights as a US citizen. In effect, it reduces
them to the status of a British colonial subject. Americans sent to UK courts
are subjected again to the very same "legal" injustices that our forefathers