Addleshaw Goddard uplifted partner fees to £1,000 an hour for the mammoth Boris Berezovsky litigation following the settlement of the chancery tranche of the cases, The Lawyer can reveal.
The firm turned to 39 Essex Street’s Jeremy Morgan QC in August 2010 to advise on the structure of a partial conditional fee deal that was agreed to help fund the case.
Sources close to the case claimed that the funding arrangement was agreed to enable the financial management of the litigation, with monthly disbursement costs – which covered everything from barrister fees to Russian translators – reaching £2m a month at one point.
Under the contract drawn up by Morgan the headline partners working on the case received an hourly rate discounted by 50 per cent to £250. This deal covered both the commercial and chancery cases with the hourly rate rising to £500 for the work on the live commercial case and again to £1,000 for the settlement of the chancery case, a source said.
It is understood that the firm collected £45m in fees for the cases with a further £5m allocated to barrister disbursements.
Addleshaws litigation partners Mark Hastings and John Kelleher led the legal battle for Berezovsky. The pair are believed to be the top-billing partners within Addleshaws, drawing in revenues upwards of £15m each. Hastings is the firm’s youngest equity partner, having been voted in last summer.
The Lawyer has learned that the firm was unable to get legal expenses cover for the case and neither could it establish a third-party funding package worth more than £5m. This is what lead it to instruct Morgan, a leading costs silk.
It has emerged that One Essex Court’s Laurence Rabinowitz QC received a £1.75m brief fee for his work for the ousted oligarch, less than a quarter paid by Berezovsky’s legal adversary Roman Abramovich for his counsel, former Brick Court silk Jonathan Sumption QC, who commanded a fee of £8m.
Sources close to the firm said that Berezovsky had settled his legal bills and is continuing to instruct Addleshaws in the ongoing Aeroflot litigation, in which he is being sued for $100m by the Russian airline in London.
Questions were raised by rival litigators over how Addleshaws had profited from the fee agreement following Mrs Justice Gloster’s damning verdict on Berezovsky’s conduct during the trial.
She had rejected his claims that Abramovich coerced him into selling his 21.5 per cent share in Russian oil company Sibneft at a significantly reduced price and that the defendant had broken promises over a deal involving Russian aluminium company RusAl (31 August 2012).
It is understood that fees could have been raised even further had the case been won.
Earlier this month (12 October), Berezovsky agreed to pay legal costs of £35m for his rival Abramovich after losing the commercial claim. Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom issued a £40m bill for the work it did for Abramovich, including disbursements of £8m for Sumption (12 October 2012).
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer had billed £5m for the work it did for joined defendant Russian metal magnate Vasily Anisimov (26 September 20112), but it was agreed that Berezovksy would pay £3.75m of the costs billed by Freshfields partner Ian Terry and counsel from 3 Verulam Buildings, Ali Malek QC and Sonia Tolaney.
Addleshaws declined to comment on the fees structure.