Allen & Overy and Michael Tugenhat QC denied £200,000 after costs judge finds inaccuracies in CFAs
One of the country's leading defamation barristers Michael Tugenhat QC and a litigation team at Allen & Overy (A&O) have been denied almost £200,000 that was owed to them because of errors in their conditional fee arrangements (CFA). Tugenhat and A&O won the substantive trial concerning defamatory remarks made by scientologists against their client Bonnie Woods. However, the CFAs made between A&O and its lay client, and between A&O and Tugenhat and his junior counsel, contained so many inaccuracies that they were ruled invalid by costs judge Master Rogers. Tugenhat and his junior counsel Alexandra Marzec, both of 5 Raymond Buildings, were owed the bulk of the £190,000 billed in costs to the other side, as they had done some seven months of preparatory work on a CFA. A&O's team, led by its head of finance and banking litigation group Tim House, were owed far less as they acted pro bono until around two weeks before trial. In the subsequent costs case, the costs judge granted disclosure of Woods' retainer with her lawyers and the written agreement between A&O and Tugenhat's clerk Kim Janes. As a result, it was discovered that A&O's CFA with Woods breached the CFA Regulation 1995. A&O had failed to state the amount payable to lawyers, the method used to calculate this, and the circumstances in which the client may be liable to pay fees and expenses (for full details see Bar Talk on page 15). The CFA between A&O and counsel also failed to state to what part of the proceedings the CFA related, when fees are due, and whether lawyers will be paid if circumstances change. Tugenhat declined to comment and Tim House was unavailable.