Supplementary memorandum submitted by Marcus Partington, Chair, Media Lawyers Association

 

I am writing to you, on behalf of the Media Lawyers Association (MLA), following yesterday's oral evidence session which I attended as a witness.

During the second session Mark Thomson, a Partner of Carter-Ruck Solicitors, told the Committee that "our fee at the moment is 400 per hour, which is about the standard rate in the industry". Leaving to one side whether what Carter-Ruck's charge is the "standard rate in the industry" - and I should mention that Keith Schilling (of Schillings) currently seeks to charge 650 per hour, that his other partners currently seek 475 per hour, and that Graham Shear, who is representing Ashley Cole on a CFA, and also represents other wealthy footballers, is seeking a rate of 580 per hour in the Cole case - I am writing to you, with some further evidence, so that the Committee is not misled by what Mr Thomson told you.

I should be grateful if you would distribute this letter to all of the members of the Committee.

The following are recent cases, involving Carter-Ruck and members of the MLA, where they have sought or mentioned that their firm's basic fees are in excess of 400 per hour.

They are as follows: -

1. Tesco Stores Limited -v- Guardian News and Media Limited and Alan Rusbridger

In this case, from last year, the Senior Partner of Carter-Ruck, Nigel Tait, is seeking recovery of a rate of 500 per hour.

2. Sienna Miller -v- Big Pictures and News Group Newspapers Limited

Carter-Ruck, in the shape of Mr Thomson himself, sought recovery of his fees from the defendants in December 2008 at an hourly rate of 450 per hour.

 

3. In a case involving a claim by a client of Carter-Ruck against MGN Limited, a subsidiary of Trinity Mirror Plc, Carter-Ruck said that prior to entering into the CFA their partner's time had been charged at a rate of 450 per hour. That was in the spring of 2008.

Of course, the rates which solicitors seek to charge and seek recovery of can vary - and it is clearly the case that in basic hourly rates terms Carter-Ruck are not the most expensive firm - but the MLA is very concerned that the Committee is not misled by Mr Thomson's answer into thinking that Carter-Ruck always charges a standard rate of 400 per hour, when the evidence clearly indicates otherwise.

 

25 February 2009