Sydney lawyers in $5.8m legal bill stoush

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Two Sydney lawyers are in a protracted legal battle over $5.8 million in fees and interest stemming from a case way back in 2004.
Eight Wentworth Chambers barrister Christopher Bevan alleges that Sydney solicitor Evangelos Patakas should pay him $4.1 million in costs and a further $1.7 million in interest, according to a Brisbane Times report.
However, the other side claims that Bevan agreed to be engaged on a “non-recourse” or “spec” basis, meaning he would only be paid if the client won the case. Both parties have been going at it for years and their five lawyers battled at the Sydney Supreme Court on Friday.
Prolonged as the case has been, the parties tendered an “absurd” volume of material in a preliminary hearing, Justice Robert McDougall had noted. The judge said that “16 lever arch folders” of exhibits were submitted by both parties to the court.
Bevan wanted a costs assessor, which would not involve a court case, to determine the claims. However, Patakas is sought an injunction to stop Bevan from applications for cost assessment saying the process is “inherently unsuited” due to the complex nature of the dispute.
Justice McDougall upheld a temporary injunction to stop Bevan’s cost assessment applications saying that the court is the proper venue to resolve whether he is owed the fees in question. Justice McDougall also denied Bevan’s request to exclude alleged conversations about legal work based on these being “protected confidences.” The evidence is “vital to the solicitor’s case” and could determine whether the barrister did agree to be engaged on a conditional basis, the justice noted.
Bevan is represented by Noel Hutley, SC, president of the NSW Bar Association, and junior barristers Philippe Doyle Gray and Julian Zmood while Patakas is represented by Guy Parker, SC, and Sonia Tame.

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