Hicks fails to overturn court order over damages

LONDON - Liverpool's American former co-owners have failed to overturn a London High Court order preventing them pursuing damages through U.S. courts over the sale of the Premier League club last year.

The judge ruled on Thursday that while former partners Tom Hicks and George Gillett can file lawsuits seeking information in American courts, they must ask permission from a UK judge if they want to file any damage claims in their own country, the Press Association news agency reported.

Hicks and Gillett pledged last year to use all legal means to secure damages of at least $1.6 billion over the sale of the club to John W. Henry's New England Sports Ventures for 300 million pounds.

The former owners called the deal "illegal" and "an extraordinary swindle" but the board went ahead and sold the five-times European champions last October, with the blessing of major creditor Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS).

Hicks and Gillett said they had offered to pay outstanding debt to the RBS but that attempt was rejected.

Liverpool said they were delighted that "the anti-suit injunction prohibiting the former owners from commencing legal actions against these parties (former Liverpool chairman Martin Broughton, RBS and NESV) 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," Liverpool said in a statement.

RBS said it was "satisfied with the ruling". The bank had been concerned that the main legal jurisdiction for the claims could shift from Britain to the United States.