Firm keeps mum on Mowlem backdown

CLIFFORD Chance is saying nothing over the embarrassing £20 million failure of its client Mowlem in a long-running legal action, which resulted in profuse apologies to the defendants and an offer to pay all parties' legal costs.

Other London lawyers are speculating how such a large case could go so wrong, at such expense, and whether the firm may slash its fees to help its client which now faces a £12-14 million legal bill.

Mowlem's statement reads: “Throughout the long history of this dispute Mowlem has acted in accordance with legal advice.” A gagging clause prevents all parties from discussing the case.

One City lawyer not involved in the case said: “I would not want to be in Clifford Chance's shoes when they visit a construction law marketing event.”

Another said: “I wonder why the case was brought. I would have thought that Mowlem are thinking the same thing.”

DJ Freeman acted for Eagle Star and Fishburn Boxer for Phippen Randall and Parkes (PRP). A total of ten top silks were involved.

John Mowlem Construction's action, against insurers Eagle Star and architects Phippen Randall and Parkes (PRP) over the Carlton Gate development, started five years ago. It culminated in a 56-day trial before Official Referee Judge Bowsher QC.

It ended when, after seeing a draft judgement from the judge, Mowlem agreed to withdraw all its claims. It acknowledged all its allegations, including those of conspiracy and professional misconduct, should never have been made.

It agreed to pay all the defendants' legal costs, £250,000 compensation to PRP, the costs of an apology in the construction press and to lodge a statement with the Stock Exchange.

Clifford Chance