Baroness coughs up to Thyssen – finally

Wilberforce Chambers silk Robert Ham QC has settled his dispute with the wife of well-known industrialist Baron Hans Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza, over non-payment of £500,000 in fees. Baroness Carmen Fernandez has now paid Ham in full for his role in the infamous Thyssen litigation.

Fernandez had originally agreed to pay Ham all his fees within seven days of her receiving $14m (£8.9m) into her bank account in Andorra from the Art Indemnity Fund, part of the Baron’s enormous art proceeds. However, none of the £500,000 owed to Ham was paid when the Baroness received the money in February this year.

As a result, Ham, who acted alongside Michael Crystal QC in the Bermuda litigation, sued Fernandez in the High Court in London.

In case that failed, Ham took other action. Three months ago, on his behalf, Jersey advocates successfully froze the Baroness’s funds lodged in Jersey accounts in order to stop her from moving them to other jurisdictions. They totalled some £500,000 – the amount Ham sued the Baroness for in the High Court.

After representations by Ham’s lawyers from London firm Withers, the Swiss authorities ruled that unless she paid the lawyer, the Baroness would lose ownership of Thyssen’s luxurious residence in Lugano, Switzerland.

The Baroness agreed to settle after this three-pronged action by Ham. His final bill, which related to his work drawing up the final settlement after the Bermuda litigation, comprised £448,204 plus interest of £24,017 at the time of the lodging of the High Court claim form. This increased daily by £98.24. Withers’ costs have also been paid.

It was agreed at the start of the case that Ham should be paid by the Baron, who died in April, and the Baroness rather than the instructing law firm, Bermuda’s Appleby Spurling & Kempe.