Lawyer bill is the most out­ra­geous I’ve ever seen

Le­gal costs ex­pert urges probe into £2m in­voice

Sunday Mail (UK) - - News - Craig McDon­ald

Bri­tain’s top le­gal costs ex­pert has de­scribed sums charged by a blue chip law firm as the “worst over- billing” he has seen in his 35-year ca­reer.

Jim Di­a­mond was hired by busi­ness­man Robert Kidd to an­a­lyse fees he was charged by Levy & McRae and the ad­vo­cate they used in his case.

The firm and ad­vo­cate Jonathan Brown have been re­ported by Kidd and his le­gal team to Scot­land’s le­gal watch­dog for “out­ra­geous and un­pro­fes­sional” prac­tices.

In his re­port, Di­a­mond claims: “I can say with­out hes­i­ta­tion this is the worst case I have en­coun­tered for un­jus­ti­fied and over-billing and/or lack of le­gal costs in­for­ma­tion and/or le­gal costs con­trol.

“Frankly, some of them are so out­ra­geous and un­pro­fes­sional they should be im­me­di­ately re­ported and in­ves­ti­gated by the rel­e­vant au­thor­ity as a mat­ter of ur­gency.”

The case has been re­ported to the Scot­tish Le­gal Com­plaints Com­mis­sion (SLCC) and the Fac­ulty of Ad­vo­cates.

We told last month how Levy & McRae, based in Glas­gow, are be­ing sued for £ 3mil­lion by Kidd over claims fees they charged him were “il­le­gal”.

Di­a­mond’s re­port states the ba­sic costs charged by the firm for the case were around £2.15mil­lion but it is un­der­stood to­tal charges ended up more than dou­ble that when “suc­cess fees” were fac­tored in.

Di­a­mond states: “No work in progress re­ports/ time break­down/ac­counts ledgers have ever been sub­mit­ted ( by part­ner Gra­ham Craik or Levy & McRae) to Kidd or his new le­gal team deal­ing with these le­gal costs dis­pute. De­spite base costs of £ 2.15mil lion and re­peated re­quests, the client [Kidd] has never re­ceived a global break­down of the fee earn­ers’ time spent on the mat­ter.”

Lord Do­herty last month made an or­der that Levy & McRae and Brown pro­duce a break­down of their fees. Di­a­mond states a “fig­ure of £1,250,600” which cov­ers a pe­riod of nine months in 2017, “ap­pears to be vastly over­stated”.

He adds that “coun­sel Jonathan Brown charged £1.1mil­lion as a base fee”.

Di­a­mond’s re­port states: “These are the largest fees I have come across for ju­nior coun­sel in one case with­out a trial. I could not lo­cate any in­struc­tions from Levy & McRae to Jonathan Brown.

“It is also un­clear as to what the prod­uct of his work was. There was lit­tle in­for­ma­tion on costs/rates charged.”

The row re­lates to court ac­tion Kidd took against his pre­vi­ous lawyers, Paull & Wil­liamsons, over the sale of one of his com­pa­nies.

Kidd hired Levy & McRae to rep­re­sent him but the case was set­tled out of court for a “sig­nif­i­cant” undis­closed sum ear­lier this year.

His le­gal ac­tion, on­go­ing at the Court of Ses­sion, claims the agree­ment reached with both Levy & McRae – who rep­re­sent Alex Salmond in his case against the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment – and Brown is “il­le­gal and un­en­force­able”.

The Fac­ulty of Ad­vo­cates said they were “un­able to con­firm any com­plaint” and the SLCC said: “We can’t dis­close in­for­mat ion about any speci f ic com­plaints.”

Levy & McRae and Brown de­clined to com­ment.

They should be re­ported to the rel­e­vant au­thor­ity

CASE Court of Ses­sion and, right, our story

QUES­TIONS Kidd, above, and Brown

EX­PERT Jim Di­a­mond

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