02:53, August 03 80 0

2017-08-03 02:53:07
Eversheds targeted over costs in Jersey abuse inquiry

Eversheds has been targeted by costs lawyer Jim Diamond as the firm’s billings come under scrutiny during the Independent Jersey Care Inquiry.

The inquiry was set to last for one year when it launched in 2014 and expected to cost £6m but finished at nearly four times that figure, totalling £23m.

Eversheds, which has since merged with Sutherland & Asbill, was named as adviser to the Jersey historical abuse inquiry in March 2014 which was set up to investigate allegations of child abuse dating as far back as 1960.

While the exact figure of the firm’s legal costs is not known, it is understood to have recorded travel expenses of £1.5m.

The final total legal spend for the inquiry eventually reached £10.5m with costs in 2015 alone reaching £5.5m. Some outlets suggested in February that legal cost was set to reach two-thirds of the £23m total.

Diamond has offered to audit the inquiry pro bono in the hopes that it would ensure tighter budgetary restraints in the future.

Diamond said: “I’m attacking the Jersey States because they’ve lost control of the case. There have been no dead bodies but £23m has been spent for issues that happened 30 to 40 years ago.

“For legal costs, my two targets are Eversheds and the firm’s travel expenses. I’ve never seen figures like them.”

The costs were not solely billed by legacy Eversheds, as 37 Park Square Chambers’ Frances Oldham QC and her panel members Alyson Leslie and Sandy Cameron were also on the billing. At the time, it was reported that Oldham may have been earning as much as £2,800 a day.

In the inquiry’s final report, Oldham called for the demolition of the Haut de la Garenne children’s home which was the scene of much of the abuse.

Diamond has documented legal spend throughout his career, showing that in 2015 US firms’ hourly rates outstripped those of the magic circle.

Eversheds Sutherland declined to comment.