IN THE SUPREME COURT OF HONG KONG
BETWEEN __________ 1987, No.A7889 BETWEEN (By Original Action) AND BETWEEN (By Counterclaim) __________ 1987, No.A7891 BETWEEN AND (By Original Action) AND BETWEEN (By Counterclaim) __________ 1987, No.A7892 BETWEEN (By Original Action) AND BETWEEN (By Counterclaim) _______________
(By Original Action)
(By Original Action)
(By Original Action)
Coram: Master Michael Jennings
Review of Taxation by Taxing Master
1. The Bill of Costs in this taxation related to an interlocutory application by the 4th Defendant for security for costs to be providedby the Plaintiff. The Bill was taxed by me on 19th March, 1990.
2. On this Review, the Objections related entirely to the quantum of counsels’ fees allowed by me.
Fees of Mr. Ian Hunter, Q.C.
3. Mr. Hunter’s fees as originally claimed amounted to a total of $590,402.50. After taxation, the total was $545,999.50. The Objectionsfell into 2 categories, firstly that the fees allowed to Mr. Hunter were excessive, and secondly that I allowed a second brief feerather than merely a refresher.
Fees excessive – objections 2 – 9 & 11 & 12
4. I was referred on Review, as I had been on Taxation, to the case of Tai Hing Cotton Mill Ltd. v. Liu Chong Hing Bank Ltd. & Others in which Mr. Justice Rhind said that the proper measure of counsel’s fees is “what a hypothetical counsel capable of conducting thecase effectively would be content to take on the brief”. Dealing with the use of London counsel, the Judge said:
5. I approached the question of the fees to be allowed in respect of Mr. Hunter on the basis of that “global figure” test. At the review,I had before me 2 pieces of information not available to me at the taxation. On behalf of the Defendant, Miss Eu placed considerablereliance upon the fees charged by Mr. Charles Ching, Q.C., who appeared for the Defendant in the application. On the other hand,Mr. Cotterill for the Plaintiff was able to tell me about a Bill of Costs taxed against the Plaintiff in respect of another interlocutoryapplications. That Bill was dated May, 1988, and was the Bill of the 4th and 5th Defendants. The fees and expenses of Mr. Robin Potts,Q.C., a London silk, amounted to $546,893.12.
Two Brief fees – objection 11
6. There seems to be no firm rule whereby I should have disallowed the payment to Mr. Hunter of 2 brief fees, and only allowed 1 brieffee followed by a refresher. In my view, there are unusual cases where a second brief fee is proper, and Mr. Cotterill referred meto the case of Wakefield & Others v. Brown, Court of Common Pleas Vol.IX, p.410, which is an old authority supporting this view. Mr. Cotterill’s affidavit explained that inthe period between the delivery of the 2 briefs no less than 436 pages of affirmations had been added to the volume of the paperswhich counsel had to study before the eventual hearing of the application. In my view, this was an exceptional case where the secondbrief fee could properly be allowed.
7. I remain of the view that the fees of Mr. Hunter as taxed are proper.
Fees of Mr. Barrie Barlow
8. It is objected that Mr. Barlow’s brief fee of $25,000 (which I had taxed down from $30,000) was excessive for a 30 minute hearingbefore the laster. It was, however, agreed at the Review that the hearing had been set down for a full day, and just happened togo short on the day. I consider that the brief fee as taxed is proper.
Objection 13 & 14
9. It is objected that 2 brief fees of $60,000 (taxed down by me from $70,000 and $75,000 respectively) were excessive and that thesecond brief fee should have been replaced by a refresher. I allowed the second brief fee for the same reason as I allowed it forMr. Hunter. Having regard to the brief fees allowed to his leader, I still consider the brief fees allowed to Mr. Barlow are reasonable.
Objections 15, 16 & 17
10. It is objected that the 2 refresher fees of $20,000 each are excessive, the comment being made that they exceed those of Mr. Barlow’sleader (which were $19,125). I consider that having regard to the fee on the brief, the refresher fees are reasonable, and that thoseof Mr. Hunter are surprisingly low.
11. On Review, I declined to reduce further counsels’ fees as taxed.