A federal judge has told global brokers Aon and Willis Towers Watson (WTW) that their trial versus the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) is unable to commence before November and could be delayed further owing to a backlog of cases.
After the DoJ proposed a trial date of February 28th, 2022, Aon and WTW described this as unsustainable and called on the Court to consider the earliest possible date for the pending trial over their $30 billion combination.
At a scheduled hearing on Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton said that he intends to begin trial proceedings on November 18th, 2021, for a few days, before resuming proceedings again in December between the 20th – 22nd when he has an opening in his schedule.
It appears that the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S. has resulted in a huge backlog of cases.
Furthermore, Judge Reggie Walton warned that both the November and December dates he has proposed for the Aon/WTW case might also slip as he is presiding over numerous cases related to the U.S. Capital riots, which take priority owing to Defendants’ rights to a speedy trial.
“I understand the desire to bring the case to trial as soon as possible, but I think it’s unrealistic,” said the judge.
Under the terms of the current agreement between the pair, WTW can walk away from the deal after the expiration date of September 9th, 2021 and claim a $1 billion termination fee from Aon. However, the brokers could instead agree to extend the agreement, although it is plausible that WTW could seek new terms.