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ATG have learned from Neil Zola of the class-action legal specialists Garden City Group (GCG) of Melville, New York, that a key development has taken place – a currency motion and proposed form of order filed with the court on Thursday, April 14. Approval of these two important documents would give the green light for cheques to be issued by the administrators.

Many ATG readers entitled to compensation from this part of the settlement (those claims relating to sales outside the United States) have become increasingly frustrated by what they perceive to be a long-winded procedure.

Although all claimants were asked to submit forms before a deadline of December 10, 2003 (later extended to January 2004), it later emerged that no payments could be made until the validity of every single claim had been assessed. This is because in a pro rata settlement based upon a fixed compensation pot, the exact amount each claimant receives is only determined by the final number of valid claimants and the size of their claims.

When ATG last reported on the status of the compensation payment process in September, the auction houses and GCG said they were working together to iron out a small percentage of disputed claims requiring additional research and investigation. This has caused the extended delay to the payout.

It is, as yet, unclear when cheques will be issued although ATG understands it will be a wholly cash settlement.

When, back in June 2003, cheques began to arrive relating to the price-fixing settlement in the USA, it emerged that part of the compensation payments were made in the form of transferable certificates to be used only for future vendor charges at either Sotheby’s or Christie’s.

Regular sellers found these useful although many have chosen to offload them with the Chicago Clearing Company, who specialise in the buying and selling of certificates issued in class-action settlements.

We will publish more information as we receive it.