Leigh Day’s £105m Trafigura costs hit legal brick wall

Leigh Day & Co included charges for giving media briefings in the £105m bill it issued after suing oil ­company Trafigura on behalf of thousands of Ivory Coast residents.

The items were later withdrawn, but the firm maintains that it should be entitled to costs for time spent analysing materials provided or published by the media.

The firm launched a group litigation order against Trafigura in 2006, alleging that it was liable after oil tanker Probo Koala dumped 400 tonnes of toxic waste in and around Ivorian capital Abidjan in August 2006.

Although Trafigura did not concede liability, it ­settled the case in September 2009. Prior to the ­settlement the company was the focus of a media storm that culminated in it instructing Carter-Ruck to send libel warnings to the BBC and The Guardian. The BBC paid £25,000 compensation and issued an apology to settle the case (The Lawyer, 17 December 2009).

Libel proceedings were also issued against Leigh Day senior partner Martyn Day, but were settled as part of the overall agreement.

According to the judgment in the preliminary costs hearing handed down by senior costs judge Chief Master Hurst, Leigh Day tried to claw back cash for time spent in discussion with media outlets, ­including the BBC and The Guardian.

Trafigura said it would contend vigorously the £105m fee put forward by Leigh Day, which includes a 100 per cent uplift.