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Slaughter and May and maverick High Court judge Mr Justice Jacob have had a costs spat over a complex tax case. Judge Jacob turned down an interlocutory application brought by Slaughters for client Rory Carvill, and turning to costs on the half-day hearing asked: "Slaughter and May wants £43,000?" He continued: "Can I just ask, are your clients being charged £43,000 for a bundle of documents being produced like this? I must say I find that this is extortion." He went on to savage the firm's case preparation, saying: "I'm afraid I've taken the practice of requiring solicitors to write to their clients if their papers are in a mess, saying you are being billed for things that have been in a mess." However, Judge Jacob relented, adding: "Anyway, I'm not going to do it, but you can consider it a close-run thing." Around half the costs were attributable to Slaughters for 60 hours of work, which is within court guidelines for City firms. A source close to Slaughters claimed the spat was over a missing staple, but other sources say Judge Jacob disapproved of fee levels. A City litigator said: "This judge is known for expressing concerns about solicitors' costs. It's not surprising he's chosen to go for Slaughters." Slaughters in-house tax consultant Bob Ramwich used Elizabeth Gloster QC and Giles Goodfellow QC; the defendant, the Inland Revenue, instructed Timothy Brennan QC, Rabinder Singh QC and Hugh McKay. Slaughters declined to comment other than to say it had behaved properly.