Mr Justice Vos has described the number of firms clambering on board the phone-hacking juggernaut as “unbelievable”, as 11 firms have filed further claims on behalf of celebrities allegedly targeted by the News of the World.
Established phone-hacking players such as Taylor Hampton partner Mark Lewis and Mishcon de Reya partner Charlotte Harris are involved, but other firms such as Hill Dickinson and Malletts have entered the arena.
News Group Newspapers is facing almost 50 new civil claims after Matrix Chambers’ Hugh Tomlinson QC, who is leading the claims (21 July 2012), told Vos J at London’s High Court on Friday that there are 1,174 likely victims.
Vos J expressed his concern that there were now 55 firms involved for 100 claimants and encouraged individuals to seek firms with experience in the ongoing litigation.
BLP partner Graham Shear agreed. He said: “The judge is concerned about there being unnecessary repetition in work already undertaken. Firms instructed in the first round of claims [Atkins Thomson, Bindmans, Steel & Shamash, BLP, Mishcon and Taylor Hampton] went through an awful lot of background generic issues and disclosure which aided our understanding.
“Firms coming in that are new to this process or who have not undertaken this work or privacy work in the past could make heavy weather of it and could possibly be less efficient than those who have already undertaken work.
“I think the judge had in mind that the firms involved in stage one would be again in stage two with very few additions.”
A trial date for the second raft of claims for those that do not settle out of court has been set for February 2013.
Hill Dickinson Manchester partner Geraldine Ryan is acting for footballer Wayne Rooney and his agent Paul Stretford in two of the most high-profile new claims and Atkins Thomson partner Mark Thomson, who is the lead solicitor for the phone-hacking claimant group, is instructed by golfer Colin Montgomerie’s ex-wife Eimear Cook, presenter Jamie Theakston, Jade Goody’s former partner Jeff Brazier and cleared murder suspect Colin Stagg. His colleague and fellow partner Graham Atkins is instructed for former prime minister Tony Blair’s wife Cherie Booth QC.
Lewis at Taylor Hampton is acting for PR consultant Nicola Philips, Elle Macpherson’s former adviser Mary-Ellen Field, police officer and Crimewatch presenter Jacqui Hames and her husband David Cook, former Royal butler Paul Burrell, Gemma Louise Abbey, Lord David John Blencathra, rugby player and TV presenter Matt Dawson, Ian Richard Johnson, Jeffrey Alan Jones, actor James Nesbitt, Benedict Grant Noakes, former prime minister Sir John Major’s former daughter-in-law Emma Noble, Lucy Jane Taggart, Patrick Anthony Culhane, Lily Anne Colvin, footballer Kevin Moran, Robert Ashworth, Georgina James, Barry James, Michelle Bayford, Steve Bayford (senior), Steve Bayford (junior), Jill Burchnall and Edward Blum.
Ryan Giggs’ lawyer Gideon Benaim, a partner at Schillings, has put in a claim on behalf of his footballer client; Carter Ruck is acting for singer-songwriter James Blunt and politician Nigel Farage; BLP’s Graham Shear is instructed by footballers Kieron Dyer, Peter Crouch and Crouch’s celebrity wife Abi Clancy; and Mallets head of litigation Chris Waters is representing Chris Eubank and Karron Stephen Martin.
Brabners Chaffe Street Solicitors is acting for Duncan Foster and Mishcon de Reya’s Charlotte Harris is again involved on behalf of George Best’s former wife Alex Best, Patricia Bernal – the mother of a murder victim – comedian Bobby Davro and Trudi Nankeville.
Steel & Shamash is acting for Joyce Matheson, footballer David Beckham’s father Ted Beckham and Matthew Doyle. Bhatt Murphy partner Simon Creighton is acting for Jane Winter, Director of British Irish Rights Watch.
All are represented by Tomlinson QC.
The lawyer understands that several firms are preparing further claims to tie in with the second raft of phone-hacking claims.
Vos J said there would be no sympathy for “outrageous” cost estimates.
Earlier this year there was a settlement of more than 50 cases including claims by Jude Law, Charlotte Church and Lord Prescott.