British Energy legal fees to hit £60m

Legal fees for the mammoth British Energy restructuring are about to overtake the payout to law firms on Marconi.

Advisory fees to law firms on the Marconi restructuring totalled around £56m, of which £31m went to Allen & Overy.

It is understood that costs on British Energy, which are particularly controversial as they are footed by the UK taxpayer, will soon pass the £60m mark.

Sources close to the restructuring, which has been running since 2002, estimate total fees for all advisers have now passed the £105m mark, with legal advisers accounting for just under 60 per cent of that spend.

The lion’s share of that, around £37m, is thought to have been billed by Clifford Chance, which, in advising British Energy, has by far the biggest role on the deal.

It is understood Clifford Chance scored a victory earlier this year when the firm blocked a request by British Energy bondholders to have the company pay their legal costs on the Polygon litigation.

The bondholders are using Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft, led by UK partner Andrew Wilkinson, which sources close to the deal indicate has billed around £6m in total.

The UK Government is being advised by Slaughter and May, which has billed around £9m, the bulk of which was in the first few months of the restructuring.

The three firms continue to advise on the scheme of arrangement, which should be put before the Scottish courts in the next few months, the costs of which are expected to push the legal outlay to more than £60m.