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MLaw, the firm acting for Hello! in its appeal against the High Court victory by Catherine Zeta-Jones, Michael Douglas and OK! over the couple’s wedding photos, is taking the case forward on a ‘no-win, no-fee’ basis.
Former Charles Russell partner Christopher Hutchings, who set up MLaw last autumn, has billed Hello! £1m for the case, which started in 2000.
After losing the High Court case, Hello! is facing a £2m bill for OK! and the Douglases’ costs, as well as more than £1m in damages.
Hutchings said that his firm and Hello!’s barrister, James Price QC of 5 Raymond Buildings offered the conditional fee arrangement (CFA) to Hello! without being asked to do so by the client.
It is normal for solicitors to offer clients a CFA, but is still rare for barristers to work on this basis.
Hutchings told The Lawyer: “We offered to do this and the barrister was also happy to do so. The client has been through a lot so we thought we’d put our money where our mouth is.”
If successful, MLaw and counsel will be able to charge 100 per cent more than their normal hourly rates.