Fees row lawyer to win most of claim

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 18 July, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 18 July, 1996, 12:00am

The junior counsel who was paid $17 million by the Legal Department for his work on the Carrian case is entitled almost all of the last payment he is claiming.

A tribunal appointed by the Law Society and the Bar Association found that the department should pay its former senior Crown counsel Graham Grant $627,025, instead of the $708,075 he had asked for.

Legislators accused Mr Grant of overcharging the department after the South China Morning Post revealed the extent of his payments in November 1994.

Mr Grant had been working on the Carrian case as a government lawyer. He subsequently joined the private Bar in 1991 and continued to handle the litigation, which was briefed out by the department.

He resigned from the case after the Post's disclosure. In May 1995, Legco, conducted an inquiry into his fees and concluded they were excessive.

After the council's hearing, the department called on the tribunal, the Grey Areas Committee, to rule whether Mr Grant was entitled to be paid his last payment of $708,075 for handling the case.

But the committee ruled that only about 10 per cent, equivalent to $81,050, should be deducted. The committee, however, found that Mr Grant was not entitled to recover the legal costs he incurred for defending the Government's claims. He was also not entitled to claim interest on the overdue fees, the committee said.

Last night, the law firm Herbert Smith, representing Grant, issued a statement saying that Grant was prepared to accept the reduction.

Mr Grant had found it difficult to defend himself, the statement said.

'In any event, he was in hospital with a life-threatening illness. In March 1995 while on holiday, Mr Grant fell gravely ill in Australia and nearly died. He spent the next five months fighting for his life in hospital,' it added.

Mr Grant trusted that the findings would put an end to the unfair and adverse comment which had appeared in the press, it said.

Mr Grant, who left the local Bar last year, now lives in Australia.