High-profile media lawyer Mark Lewis is involved in a battle with his former firm over unpaid fees for phone hacking cases, the Gazette can reveal.
Lewis, who represented the Millie Dowler family in a claim against the News of the World, is taking London firm Taylor Hampton Solicitors to court over the non-payments. The firm is counter-claiming on the basis there has been overpayment to Lewis.
The Gazette understands the case is due to come to trial in October and involves a seven-figure sum. Neither party wanted to comment on the proceedings.
According to a judgment prepared by Senior Master Fontaine following a hearing last October, the parties entered into a consultancy agreement in September 2011, which ended ‘acrimoniously’ in December 2014.
During that time, Lewis became known for conducting much of the phone hacking litigation and was involved in the Leveson Inquiry into the practices of media organisations.
The action was commenced in April 2015 and Lewis and Taylor Hampton disagree as to the terms of the termination of their agreement, each alleging that the other repudiated the agreement.
Lewis, who is now with London firm Seddons, claims entitlement to payment under the agreement, an account and order for payment and for damages and interest. Taylor Hampton counterclaims for overpayment and for damages for breach of the agreement.
According to Fontaine’s judgment, Lewis has challenged the adequacy of the firm’s disclosure which his lawyer described as ‘drip-feed’. The judge commented there was a ‘reluctance to provide disclosure’ after the date of termination of the agreement.
The agreement details that Lewis, under the guise of his consultancy company, would be due 30% of company fees of up to £300,000 in any relevant year, rising to 40% of fees up to £400,000 and half of fees above £400,000.
Fontaine notes the parties would be ‘well advised to recognise that they may have to compromise over particular issues’, but they would need a realistic idea of what figures are on each of the cases.
In a further update this week, the High Court refused an application from Taylor Hampton to amend its defence and counterclaim. The firm was ordered to comply with a direction from last November to provide Lewis with disclosure by next Friday.