Addleshaws squares up to Freshfields over £5m Berezovsky bill

Addleshaw Goddard is preparing to go into battle with Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer over £5m billed by the magic circle firm for the defence of Russian metal magnate Vasily Anisimov in the mammoth Berezovsky v Abramovich case.

Boris Berezovsky

It comes as the firm agreed a settlement with Roman Abramovich’s legal team at Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom over its £40m bill, which, according to sources close to the case, included an £8m disbursement fee for former Brick Court silk Jonathan Sumption QC, who has since joined the Supreme Court bench (4 May 2011). There will be no appeal attempt following Mrs Justice Gloster’s damning verdict, which found that Berezovsky was an unreliable witness whose claims were unfounded.

“I found Mr Berezovsky an unimpressive, and inherently unreliable, witness, who regarded truth as a transitory, flexible concept, which could be moulded to suit his current purposes,” Gloster J said (31 August 2012).

While Abramovich was the main target of the claims pursued by Berezovsky, a number of other parties joined the action as defendants because they were facing separate chancery claims from the exiled Russian oligarch. Gloster J and Mr Justice Mann directed in August 2010 that parts of the two cases should be heard together where there were “overlap issues” between the two trials.

While the case against the estate of Arkady ‘Badri’ Patarkatsishvili, formerly Georgia’s richest man, settled following Berezovksy’s decision to withdraw those particular chancery claims (13 September 2012), other tranches of the case continue.

Meanwhile, a consequential hearing has been diarised for 12 October to deal with remaining costs issues spinning out of the commercial court case. Addleshaws partner Mark Hastings has instructed 4 New Square’s leading costs advocate Nicholas Bacon QC to lead the fight on costs and is understood to be challenging the £5m submitted by Freshfields partner Ian Terry. Terry instructed 3 Verulam Buildings’ Ali Malek QC and Sonia Tolaney QC for Anisimov in the commercial court hearing but is yet to instruct counsel for the costs fight.

The details of Addleshaws’ conditional fee agreement (CFA) with Berezovsky remain unclear, although sources maintain that the firm had in place legal expenses insurance to cover any losses spinning out of the case. It is believed that the firm agreed a partial CFA deal with the client, meaning that a significant proportion of its legal bill has already been paid.