Guarantees given by the Group under property leases of operations disposed of amounted to £2.7m (2012: £3.4m). Details of guarantees given by the Company, on behalf of the Group, are given in note 10 to the Company financial statements.
Vesuvius has extensive international operations and is subject to various legal and regulatory regimes, including those covering taxation and environmental matters. Several of Vesuvius' subsidiaries are parties to legal proceedings, certain of which are insured claims arising in the ordinary course of the operations of the company involved, and the Directors are aware of a number of issues which are, or may be, the subject of dispute with tax authorities. Reserves are made for the expected amounts payable in respect of known or probable costs resulting both from legal or other regulatory requirements, or from third-party claims. As the settlement of many of the obligations for which reserve is made is subject to legal or other regulatory process, the timing and amount of the associated outflows is subject to some uncertainty (see note 35 for further information).
Certain of Vesuvius' subsidiaries are subject to lawsuits, predominantly in the US, relating to a small number of products containing asbestos manufactured prior to the acquisition of those subsidiaries by Vesuvius. These suits usually also name many other product manufacturers. To date, Vesuvius is not aware of there being any liability verdicts against any of these subsidiaries. A number of lawsuits have been withdrawn, dismissed or settled and the amount paid, including costs, in relation to this litigation has not had a material adverse effect on Vesuvius' financial position or results of operations.
Cookson Precious Metals Ltd, a subsidiary of Vesuvius, was engaged in transactions involving the purchase of scrap platinum between August 2007 and October 2009. Vesuvius had been informed by HMRC that, in HMRC's view, certain external third parties within the supply chain for those transactions deliberately failed to account to HMRC for VAT. Such fraud is commonly known as Missing Trader Intra-Community Fraud. HMRC have undertaken an investigation to assess whether, as a consequence of any fraudulent actions of those third parties, they could argue that the ability of Vesuvius to retain VAT recovered on the relevant transactions should be limited. HMRC's investigation has been concluded in respect of most of the VAT loss under investigation, with no associated liability for VAT or interest or penalties arising.
Certain subsidiary companies of Vesuvius plc and Alent plc are defendants in two actions, brought by MacDermid (incorporated in the United States), which are pending in the Connecticut Superior Court and arising out of corporate activity involving the parties in the autumn of 2006. The first action was commenced in 2009 and the second action was commenced in August 2012. MacDermid claims damages of approximately $62m, plus punitive or exemplary damages, costs and interest which are currently unquantifiable. Both Vesuvius and Alent believe these claims have no merit and are vigorously defending these actions. Each of Vesuvius and Alent anticipates filing motions for summary judgment in both cases by mid-2014 and, if any claims remain pending decisions on those motions, a trial in the first action is anticipated in the first half of 2015. Any liability relating to the MacDermid claim arising following the demerger of Cookson Group will be split equally between Alent plc and Vesuvius plc.