Proskauer, Dewey gain approval for $8.8m in MF Global fees

A US court has ruled in favour of Proskauer Rose and Dewey & LeBoeuf after counsel for collapsed brokerage MF Global objected to the “excessive” fees submitted by the firms.

In a filing submitted last week Jones Day’s Los Angeles-based restructuring partner Bruce Bennett, who is advising MF Global, objected to the legal fees submitted by the two firms, a total of $8.8m, arguing that they were excessive and should be blocked (23 October 2013).

He requested that the court reduced Proskauer’s fees from $5m to $3.25m and Dewey from $3.75m to $3m, calling for a fee examiner to review the bills. US bankruptcy judge Martin Glenn rejected the application, approving the fee requests.

”The fees in this case have been very high and it’s not just in this case,” he said. “You can say some people would call it a problem and some people would say it reflects the complexity and necessity of the work that lawyers perform in cases such as MF Global.” 

Elsewhere in his objection Bennett said there was no monitoring of fees by the lawyers. Judge Glenn also rejected this, saying he had spent “a lot of hours” toiling over interim fee applications before they were approved. 

Ex-Dewey board member Martin Bienenstock and fellow partners Irena Goldstein and Michael Kessler, who joined Proskauer Rose following Dewey’s collapse last May (14 May 2012), filed a response to Bennett’s objections on Friday. 

They said the objection was “based solely upon the word” of an MF Global Holdings board member, who was not involved in proceedings before his appointment but “nevertheless submitted a declaration in support of the objection”.

MF Global filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the US and administration in the UK in October 2011, with a Weil Gotshal & Manges team headed by City restructuring partner Adam Plainer appointed to advise the UK administrators and MF Global UK (1 November 2011).

Legal fees incurred by the administrators of the UK arm breached the £18m mark last year, with Weil Gotshal taking the bulk by billing over £15m (11 December 2012). Overall billings for advice from solicitors and barristers came to £18.4m, broken up as £10.9m in the first six months and £7.49m between May and October 2012.