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31 Dec 2016

David Bowden, David Bowden Law (UK)

Leigh Day hit with £27 million indemnity costs order in Colombian pipeline case

...Stuart-Smith J dismissed all claims in July 2016...against BP Exploration Company (Colombia) Limited in relation to damage which Colombian farmers claimed they had suffered...The claimants’ cases were funded by means of a ‘no win, no fee’ agreements...The defendant had to pay its own costs on a standard retainer basis...By the time of the November 2016 costs hearing, the Defendant had incurred £34 million in defending these...claims.  The claimants’ costs budget was £24million in September 2014...Stuart-Smith J ruled that the defendant could have costs on the indemnity basis...for costs incurred from a date 5 weeks before the liability trial started.  The judge’s criticisms...extended to the claimants’ solicitors (Leigh Day)...Overall Stuart-Smith was scathing of the ‘siege mentality’ of the claimants’ legal team which he ruled led to a ‘lack of independence of mind’ which had ‘penetrated the legal team as well’...Leading counsel for the claimants pleaded with the judge at the hearing that an order for indemnity costs would have a chilling effect for similar claimants bringing environmental damage claims against large corporations or for access to justice more generally....