City law firm’s legal bill to taxpayer in RBS case largest in litigation history

Partners at a City law firm were under fire yesterday after it was claimed they had billed the taxpayer over £100 million to defend the Royal Bank of Scotland against shareholders in what is thought to be one of the biggest awards to a law firm ever made.

It was reported yesterday that Herbert Smith Freehills charged more than £86m plus VAT for legal advice.

A spokeswoman for the firm said its partners “can’t comment at all” on the reports.

The bank was nationalised to save it from collapse during the financial crisis.

It is now being sued for £4 billion by the RBS Shareholder Action Group, consisting of 27,000 retail investors as well as hundreds of institutions over a £12bn fundraising in April 2008 – five months before its £45bn bailout.

Investors claim the bank’s fundraising prospectus of April 30 2008 misrepresented RBS’s health.

The case was meant to come to court this year but was delayed as the parties tried to settle. RBS was reported to have offered £700m – which the group rejected.

An RBS spokesman said: “We continue to strongly contest these claims.”