Payne Hicks Beach, which represented Sir Paul McCartney in his divorce, is being sued by another client, Mortimer Whealon, the socialite.
Fiona Shackleton represented Sir Paul McCartney during his divorce
Photo: GEOFF PUGH
When Baroness Shackleton of Belgravia represented Sir Paul McCartney during his divorce, she, memorably, had a glass of water poured over her head by the former Beatle’s aggrieved wife, Heather Mills. Now, the Conservative peer’s company is being sued by one of its own clients.
Mortimer Whealon, the socialite, is upset by the “ridiculous bills” that the law firm, Payne Hicks Beach, has run up.
Whealon, who is divorcing her husband, a banker, claims to Mandrake: “They, literally, charge for every second of their time, even if you haven’t asked for it.”
She alleges: “If they are calling you on the phone, or even so much as thinking about your case, the next thing you know you are receiving bills for £600 an hour, which is just crazy.”
She adds: “Divorce is stressful enough, and so to take on your own divorce firm, well, you can only imagine.”
Four of the firm’s bills are now being assessed by the court. The court has already ruled in the firm’s favour on seven other bills.
In 2011, The Daily Telegraph reported that Lady Shackleton, who is Britain’s most prominent divorce lawyer, had increased the bills of celebrity clients beyond the time that she recorded having spent on their cases.
Madonna and Sir Paul appeared to have been charged hundreds of thousands of pounds more than the hourly rate would have demanded, documents showed, a practice known as “marking up”.
A spokesman for Payne Hicks Beach said at the time that all the clients had confirmed that they were happy with their bills.
A spokesman for the firm says Whealon was never one of the peer’s clients. Of her claims, that its hourly rate “was agreed in advance”, he says: “She is wrong that the bills were calculated on the basis of £600 per hour.”
Following publication of this item Paynes Hicks Beach tells us Mrs Mortimer-Whealon has recently withdrawn her challenge to all four bills (she never actually issued proceedings).
SOURCE: The Telegraph