Cadwalader pursues Noboa sisters for £6m in legal fees

Cadwalader Wicker-sham & Taft is seeking recovery of up to £6m in legal costs on behalf of itself and two other firms from the claimants in the Noboa litigation, which collapsed earlier this year.

The claimants, sisters Maria-Elena and Isabel, had accused their brother, Ecuador’s richest businessman Alvaro Noboa, of deceiving them to buy a 50 per cent stake in Fruit Shippers Ltd (FSL), a vast corporation worth some $1bn (£601.5m).

The fees being sought are for legal work on behalf of Alvaro, totalling some £5.2m. Lawyers’ fees for work done on behalf of FSL have not yet been subject to taxation, but are estimated to be worth around £3m. However, Cadwalader has launched enforcement proceedings in New York for £1.5m owed by the sisters to FSL. A hearing in relation to this is due to take place on 22 October.

The bulk of the fees – some £5.2m – are owed to Cadwalader, Herbert Smith and Ince & Co.

The sisters are disputing £370,000 of costs owed to lawyers acting for two trust companies, Earth and Water, which were also involved in the substantive litigation.

Isabel Noboa replaced US giant Leboeuf Lamb Greene & MacRae with medium-sized Mayfair firm Boodle Hatfield in relation to her dispute over one bill of costs served against her in August.

Boodle Hatfield partner Simon Fitzpatrick told The Lawyer that points of dispute over the bill of costs would be served before last Friday’s deadline (10 October).

Payment of some £800,000 is also being sought through another New York court for legal fees allegedly owed by the sisters for a jurisdictional dispute that took place in the US.