Slaughters hands Treasury £22m bill

Slaughter and May has billed the Government more than £22m since the start of the credit crunch, pocketing £4m in a single month at the height of the crisis.

Slaughter and May has billed the Government more than £22m since the start of the credit crunch, pocketing £4m in a single month at the height of the crisis.

The figures, released to The Lawyer under the ­Freedom of Information Act, reveal that the Treasury has spent £22.2m of taxpayers’ money on the City firm since November 2007 – an average of £1.6m a month.

It is understood that up to 12 partners were needed to work on Treasury mandates at busy times.

A Slaughters partner said the firm had worked on a “complex and unprecedented sequence of matters” for the Government, adding: “Our fees have been competitive and reflective of the value added in highly novel circumstances.”

The firm has been the Treasury’s source of legal counsel throughout the nationalisation of Northern Rock, the Icelandic banking crisis and the bank recapitalisation programme. Last week, in a report by the National Audit Office (NAO), it emerged that the firm had billed £9.4m during the ­collapse and nationalisation of Northern Rock.

The highest figure the firm billed the Government in a single month, £4m in November 2008, came shortly after the Government’s first rescue package for the UK banking system.

Slaughters lawyers were central to negotiations with the banks, with partners Nigel Boardman and Nilufer von Bismarck present at the late-night Downing Street meeting last October that secured the bailout.

Slaughters has ties with the Treasury going back to the 1990s privatisations. Partner Charles Randell now leads the relationship.

The Treasury would not reveal Slaughters’ hourly rates or any alternative fee arrangements. However, the NAO report revealed that Slaughters used a pre-agreed hourly rate on Northern Rock, with a 15 per cent mark-up for on-call advice.

A statement from the ­department said releasing this information would ­prejudice the ­commercial interests of both Slaughters and the Treasury.