Some Bakers with a disproportionate amount of dough
A High Court judge has deemed Baker McKenzie's fees to be disproportionate, in a case where partners are charging more than £800 an hour.
In a costs and case management conference, Judge Roger ter Haar KC told Baker McKenzie's client, Associated Newspapers Ltd, that it should reduce its estimated costs by about 15%.
Associated Newspapers, which owns the Daily Mail, is bringing a £10m claim against Buckingham Group Contracting Ltd, regarding the construction of a printing facility, with the matter set for a 12-day hearing.
The judge noted that the publisher's legal budget of £3.18m exceeded that of the defendant's estimated costs of £1.87m by a "significant margin". He highlighted that the "most importance difference" between the parties was the "hourly rates charged by the respective solicitors."
Baker McKenzie's 'Grade A' partners for the case are charging £801 an hour (compared with a guideline rate of £512), and its 'Grade D' trainees charge £216. In contrast the defendant’s highest paid partners at Weightmans charge £215 an hour.
The judge commented that although it is within Associated Newspapers’ right to “make use of expensive and experienced lawyers,” it should also consider delegating work to more junior lawyers.
The judge gave Associated Newspapers an “opportunity" (hint, hint) to come back with a revised budget, and suggested that the costs estimates should be trimmed by around 15 per cent.
A source at Baker McKenzie with knowledge of the case told RollOnFriday "this sort of reduction is not unusual", and added that the firm has now presented its revised costs budget to the court.