Law firm Dechert have had massive, multi-million pound legal bills put into question and now face litigation over their fees to a large mining client.
The £16m bill was charged to mining company ENRC, but a reversal in the UK High Court poses major problems for the legal giant.
The Lawyer reports that the High Court decision lets ENRC to have the bill assessed and paves the way for its lawyers, Signature Litigation, to sue Dechert for recovery of the company’s costs.
In his decision, handed down today, Master Rowley said that Dechert’s estimates were “considerably awry on every occasion” and were based on “highly unrealistic” assumptions.
He added there was a “vast discrepancy” between Dechert’s estimates to ENRC and its final bill.
Dechert billed ENRC for around £16m for 23 months of work, with partner David Neil Gerrard leading for the client.
Gerrard took the mandate over to Dechert when he left DLA Piper in 2011. The judgment revealed DLA Piper, which was originally instructed by ENRC to carry out the investigation, estimated the cost of the probe at “£350,000-£400,000 plus VAT and disbursements”.
Rowley’s High Court ruling says, “the reaction of the defendant [Dechert] to the modest queries raised by Addleshaw Goddard showed how unreal the concept of challenging the bills formally would have been during the course of the defendant’s retainer”.
ENRC had applied to the court for the detailed assessment of 15 invoices from Dechert from 2012, which will now go proceed and which sees Dechert accused of ‘systematic and gross overcharging’.
Source: The Lawyer
Gerrard Profile From Dechert:
Neil Gerrard is global co-head of Dechert’s white collar and securities litigation practice with special responsibility for all matters outside of the United States. Mr. Gerrard focuses on white collar crime relating to the corporate sector, with particular emphasis on regulatory investigations and prosecutions undertaken by UK, US and EU regulators including the Serious Fraud Office, HM Revenue & Customs, the Department of Trade & Industry, the Department of Justice, the Financial Services Authority and the Office of Fair Trading. Mr. Gerrard has in the past been shortlisted to be Director of the Serious Fraud Office and was a key member of the Government and Judicial Committee that developed the Deferred Prosecution Scheme.
Mr. Gerrard’s unique skillset and extensive experience has made him a lawyer of choice for companies and in particular audit committees around the world who regularly instruct him to undertake independent regulatory and/or whistleblower investigations, invariably involving multiple jurisdictions and regulatory bodies. Mr. Gerrard has advised on many of the largest, high-profile investigations carried out by key European regulators and is often called upon to conduct investigatory work as an independent specialist on behalf of these regulatory bodies. He also advises on risk management, internal controls and accountability and other compliance issues.
Mr. Gerrard is consistently ranked by Chambers UK in the top tier of leading lawyers in the field of criminal fraud. He has been listed in Band 1 in its Corporate Crime and Investigations category from 2013-2017. Chambers UK 2017 note that clients describe Mr Gerrard as having “great insight into expectations as to how the matter will progress. He is clearly very experienced and has a good sense not only for the legal side, but also for practicality.” Chambers UK has also described Mr. Gerrard as well versed in white-collar crime and clients noted that he has ‘great strategic insight- having been on the side of law enforcement in the past, he is able to bring the prosecutorial perspective to matters’. Mr. Gerrard has also been described by Chambers UK as “very impressive. He really knows the area and gives very practical advice”. Clients appreciate that “he is well connected and very hands-on.” Mr. Gerrard is recognised as “highly respected in this area” with “extensive experience in conducting international internal investigations on behalf of global companies.” He is “a master tactician, whose bold ideas and clear logical thought patterns make him invaluable, particularly in pre-trial stages…very knowledgeable on multi-jurisdictional prosecutions and investigations, frequently advising on risk management, internal controls and director accountability.” “Admired for being very good at the strategy and in keeping the client motivated and together,” he “understands the white-collar enforcement environment from the bottom up.” The Legal 500 UK has also consistently recognised Mr. Gerrard as “incredibly smart and tough,” “skilled,” an “outstanding lawyer” and “unusually smart” with “unique insight and experience” and has recommended him as a leading individual in its Fraud: Corporate Crime; Fraud: Civil; Fraud: White Collar Crime; Commercial Litigation; and Customs & Excise categories. The 2017 edition of Legal 500 UK commends Mr.Gerrard for attracting an ‘extraordinary team’.
Mr. Gerrard was named to Global Investigations Review’s list of “Who’s Who Legal Investigations 2016.” He was ranked in the 2013 and 2014 editions of The International Who’s Who of Business Crime Defence Lawyers and has previously been profiled in The Lawyer’s Hot 100 list of top legal practitioners in the UK. Also in 2012, Mr. Gerrard was named by in-house counsel and his peers in Euromoney’s Guide to the World’s Leading White Collar Crime Practitioners as one of the outstanding practitioners in the field.
Mr. Gerrard has advised on many of the largest, high profile investigations carried out by UK regulators and is often called upon to conduct investigatory work as an independent specialist on behalf of these regulatory bodies. He also advises on corporate governance issues, including Audit Committee investigations since the implementation of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act as well as risk management, internal controls and accountability and other compliance issues. In addition, Mr. Gerrard regularly advises non-UK companies on UK and European regulatory requirements.
He also has significant experience in the execution of search warrants, interviews under caution and compulsion statements, having previously prosecuted for the Department of Trade and Industry and also served as a Metropolitan Police officer in London.
The confidential nature of Neil’s work precludes us from providing comprehensive details of his experience, which includes the following representative matters:
- Conducting an internal corruption, bribery and anti-trust investigation for a global US healthcare company, including assessment of local issues across Europe, Asia, the US and the Middle East.
- Defending a large multi-national logistics company in HM Revenue & Customs’ largest ever tax fraud investigation and liaising with the Serious Fraud Office in relation to a defense contract corruption allegation.
- Advising on corruption allegations arising out of the UN Iraq Oil for Food Program.
- Representing senior executives of a petroleum services company in foreign corruption investigations by the DOJ and the SEC into activities in Nigeria, Kazakhstan and elsewhere.
- Advising multinational companies on compliance programs and internal policy and risk procedure.
- Advising a multinational company on offences resulting from the use and recording of facilitation payments by an overseas subsidiary.
Manchester Polytechnic, LL.B., 1988, with Honors
Chester College of Law, J.D., 1989
England and Wales
Member of The Law Society of England and Wales