Collapse of BCCI trial fuels costs row

A row is brewing over the cost of the collapsed Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) trial, with each side blaming the other for the time and money spent fighting the case.

As first revealed by The Lawyer earlier today (2 November) the Chancellor of the High Court, Sir Andrew Morritt, directed that the misfeasance action against the Bank of England should be discontinued.

In a statement Deloitte, the liquidator of BCCI, blamed the Bank for a series of delays raising the trial’s costs. It said: “The history of the entire action has been marked by delays caused by the Bank’s conduct of the defence. […] One of the results of these tactics has been to tie up liquidation funds both in respect of the running costs of the litigation and in reserves for exposure to an adverse costs order.”

In return Mervyn King, the governor of the Bank of England, said: “The foolish determination to pursue a hopeless case for so long has also led to a huge waste of creditors’ and taxpayers’ money, and I hope everyone concerned will take a close look at how and why such a very weak case took 12 years to come to an end. The Bank will be seeking the largest possible compensation for its costs.”

The Bank’s legal costs, accounting for solicitors Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer plus three silks and three junior barristers, are estimated at around £75m. Meanwhile Deloitte has spent £38m on solicitors Lovells, four silks and two juniors. Lead counsel Gordon Pollock QC pocketed £3m as his brief fee in 2004.

The barristers’ chambers which will benefit the most from the case are likely to be Fountain Court Chambers, supplying the Bank with lead counsel Nicholas Stadlen QC, Bankim Thanki QC and junior Henry King; and 3/4 South Square, which had Mark Phillips QC, Ben Valentin and Tom Smith representing the Bank as well as Barry Isaacs acting for Deloitte.