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Leigh Day charges £105 million (yes, £105,000,000) for Trafigura case
14 May 2010
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Leigh Day & Co is seeking £105 million in costs from Trafigura, the oil trader it sued in a massive class action.

Trafigura was accused of illegally dumping toxic waste in Ivory Coast. Some 30,000 Ivorians claimed that they were poisoned, and Leigh Day launched a class action against the company. Trafigura denied the claim and hired Macfarlanes to make it go away and Carter Ruck to threaten anyone who said beastly things about it. However it wasn't entirely successful. The action was finally settled, although without admission of liability, for £30 million - or £1,000 for each claimant. But not before Macfarlanes got a pasting from Paxman on Newsnight and Trafigura had to endure a hideous time in the press.

    £105 million fine 

And now the company has been presented with a bill for £105 million, a figure its QC, Sean Wilken, describes as "staggeringly high... one of the largest, if not the largest, costs claims in legal history". £45 million of this is for legal fees and another £15 million is for insurance, experts and disbursements. But as Leigh Day took the case under a conditional fee arrangement, it can also charge a nifty £45 million success fee. It may only be May, but it looks like an early Christmas for a lot of partners out there...

Leigh Day says that the case was Britain's biggest ever lawsuit, that it invested £10 million of its own money in it, and that Trafigura could have avoided such an eye watering bill if it had done the decent thing and settled early rather than on the steps of the court. Trafigura meanwhile is believed to have paid its own lawyers a comparatively modest £14 million.


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