The parish has been trying to recover money following a report published in May last year by a legal costs expert that concluded the law firm, then known simply as Olsens, had submitted ‘grossly excessive’ bills to the parish for the work done.The expert, Jim Diamond of LegalBudgets Ltd, claimed the bills close to £150,000 should have totalled no more than between £50,000 and £75,000.
His conclusions were rejected by the law firm.With the parish rate assembly due to be held tonight, the timing could not be better from the administration’s point of view as it is highly likely questions will be raised at the meeting.Attempts by the parish last year to recover some of the money proved fruitless and Olsens said in November 2002 that they saw no need for the Jersey Law Society to investigate their charges.
At the time the firm said they employed ‘brilliant and effective’ strategies in successfully defending Mr Le Brocq and Mr Gallichan against a number of charges and asserted that a great deal of difficult and time-consuming work was done.The firm said that the bills were approved for payment and the last was paid without a word of complaint.
That happened about two years ago.However, following negotiations between St Helier Procureurs du Bien Public Clive Barton and Stuart Mourant and representatives of the law firm, parish Constable Simon Crowcroft has confirmed that negotiations are ‘very close to being concluded’.The Constable further revealed that the parish had actually been paid out over £50,000 in legal expenses insurance in relation to the Le Brocq and Gallichan case.’It emerged that that money had been paid last year and banked but this was not discovered until recently,’ he said.The Constable said he could not comment on the amount of money that Carey Olsen had agreed to pay in principle.
‘I have not been party to the discussions and the Procureurs have had to sign non-disclosure agreements,’ he said.