Supermodel's £594,000 bill restricts freedom of speech says Mirror lawyer

By Dominic Ponsford

An “astronomical” legal bill of £594,000 sent to the Daily Mirror by
supermodel Naomi Campbell’s lawyers has been condemned as a restriction
on freedom of speech.

The Daily Mirror has petitioned the House of Lords to review the bill and its challenge is due to be heard next Thursday.

If
the Mirror is successful the Lords could choose to scrap or reform the
controversial no win, no fee system which has cost newspapers millions.

Supermodel
Campbell engaged lawyers Schillings on a no win, no feebasis for her
successful House of Lords privacy challenge against the Daily Mirror
over coverage of her treatment at Narcotics Anonymous.

Under no
win, no fee rules Schillings was able to charge the Daily Mirror a 100
per cent uplift when recovering its costs. This is intended to
compensate it for the risk of losing.

The £594,000 bill was
solely for the preparation of a two-day House of Lords hearing and not
related to previous hearings in the case.

Marcus Partington, the
Daily Mirror’s top lawyer, said he believes that recovering success
fees in cases such as this goes against Article 10 of the
EuropeanConvention on Human Rights (freedom of expression)
“particularly where there is a rich claimant involved”.

He added:
“MGN decided to petition the House of Lords on this point of law after
receiving the astronomical bill of costs which Schillings had lodged
with the court.”

Earlier this month Mr Justice Eady admitted that
the high financial risk of defending cases brought on a no win, no fee
basis meant that many newspapers could be tempted to settle them for
“purely commercial reasons”.

Costs charged by lawyers to newspapers can be as high as £900 per hour.

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