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Lawyers involved in the £1bn Buncefield litigation have raised concerns that justice may be compromised as a result of the court trying to keep costs to a minimum.
Presiding judge Mr Justice David Steel – a keen advocate of the Long Trials Working Party’s recommendation to cut the spending and length of supercases such as BCCI – is attempting to reduce the costs in Buncefield, which is set to go to full trial in October.
The Lawyer has learnt that legal costs for the case, which arose following the 2005 explosion of the Buncefield oil depot in Hertfordshire, are currently estimated at £58m, with barristers such as Lord Anthony Grabiner QC of One Essex Court likely to pocket around £1m.
The case has been set down for 10 weeks but the High Court has ordered that all parties review the need for representation and length of submissions in the hope that the trial can be cut to seven to eight weeks.
One City law firm partner involved in Buncefield said: “David Steel has a slight reputation for cutting corners, but he’s not the only judge. There’s pressure on the court to cut out as much fat as possible, but there’s some feeling that this could lead to shortcuts.”