Parmalat advisers get hourly rate

The law firms advising bankrupt dairy group Parmalat in the multibillion dollar actions against banks and financial advisers have been retained on an hourly rate rather than a contingency basis.

As reported in The Lawyer (9 August), Milanese litigation boutique Studio Legale Lombardi Molinari is leading the charge against a slate of banks and auditors in Italy and the US.

The firm is advising on three claw-back, or revocatory actions, which have been launched in the Parma courts against UBS, Credit Suisse First Boston and Deutsche Bank – advisers which were paid fees just prior to Parmalat’s bankruptcy. Parmalat’s administrator Enrico Bondi is seeking the return of the fee payments, to be distributed among the entire pool of creditors.

Lombardi Molinari is understood to be working under a combination of hourly rates and Italy’s tariff system, which dictates the fee scale for a range of legal tasks. It is understood that Parmalat has
negotiated the lowest possible price across the board.

Defences are yet to be filed in the mammoth $10bn (£5.64bn) claim against Citigroup, filed in New Jersey on 29 July. New York powerhouse Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison is advising Citigroup on the claim.

A second $10bn claim was filed against Grant Thornton and Deloitte on 18 August. Heller Ehrman White & McAuliffe, led by partner Richard Martin, is advising Deloitte on the action, while Strook Strook & Levan is acting for Grant Thornton. A defence is also yet to be filed.

US litigation specialist Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Oliver & Hedges is advising on both the US actions. It is understood that Quinn Emanuel has also been retained on an hourly-rate basis.

Italy’s tariff system ensures that litigating in Italy is relatively inexpensive compared with the US. Sources place the cost of running a case in Italy at around 20 per cent of that of running the same
case in the US.