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Addleshaw Goddard wins claim for £12.6m in ‘hard earned’ fees from Berezovsky estate

In a judgment published today (28 July) at the Senior Courts Costs Office, Addleshaw Goddard has won its case against the administrators of Boris Berezovsky estate over £12.6m in ‘hard earned’ fees.

The estate’s administrators, Grant Thornton’s Nicholas Wood and Kevin Hellard, had refused to pay the legal fees, which related to the $6.5bn litigation undertaken by Berezovsky against Roman Abramvoich and over 30 other matters, as they believe the estate to be insolvent. The administrators argued against Addleshaws claim on several grounds including that the contract had been a conditional fee agreement rather than a contentious business agreement and that even if owed that the firm would rank alongside unsecured creditors.

However, Costs Judge Master Campbell found in favour of Addleshaws in all arguments, saying: ‘The fees were hard earned on AG’s part and without the firm’s exertions, the creditors could usefully reflect that there would have been no fund over which they can now lay claim. Given too, that but for his death, the money would long since have been paid to AG, I consider it is only just that the firm’s bills should be cleared without further delay.’

The firm, with a team led by partners Mark Hastings and John Kelleher, acted for Berezovsky on his landmark $6.5bn dispute with Abramvoich and is now set to recieve the £12.6m plus costs and interests. The Russian oligarch signed an engagement letter in May 2009, with a later letter in October laying out the terms which gave a 50% reduction if the case failed and then two levels of fee if the case was successful that were based on the amount recovered.

The firm said in a statement: ‘Addleshaw Goddard has not, and will not discuss the arrangements this firm entered into with the late Mr Berezovsky, save to say that the steps the firm has taken are to ensure that funds are paid in accordance with the arrangements agreed and the instructions given by the late Mr Berezovsky.’

Addleshaws’ Hastings instructed Nicholas Bacon QC and Danial Saoul of 4 New Square on its claim alongside South Square’s John Briggs. The administrators turned to Holman Fenwick Willan for their defence, which instructed 4 New Square’s Robert Marven and Stephen Atherton QC from 20 Essex Street.

For more coverage of the landmark Berezovsky litigation see: Battle Royale