Herbert Smith asks Lightman J for £2.5m costs in SMG case

Herbert Smith is about to submit a whopping £2.5m costs application to Mr Justice Lightman for work for the Scottish Media Group (SMG) in its recent action against Chris Evans. Judge Lightman recently slammed lawyers for making litigation so expensive.

Herbert Smith’s bill is almost twice that of Evans’ solicitors Harbottle & Lewis. SMG’s leading counsel, Geoffrey Vos QC of 3 Stone Buildings, is understood to have received a brief fee of £220,000 and an unspecified daily refresher.

A Herbert Smith insider predicted that Lightman will send the firm away “with a flea in its ear”, because of his current disdain for excessive costs.

The Lawyer understands that Herbert Smith has run up such high costs partly because of the amount of disclosure solicitors at the firm handled during the run-up to the case.

In a speech given at the University of Sheffield this April, Lightman said: “Litigation of any substantial size (most particularly in the High Court) remains an extravagantly expensive and unpredictable exercise.”

He also called for a more Continental court system which “cuts back on the dominant role of counsel and practically eliminates the costly exercises of disclosure and cross-examination”.