Wagatha Christie costs process could take two years says legal expert

A specialist costs lawyer has revealed that Rebekah Vardy and Coleen Rooney could spend another two years going through the process of having their legal bills assessed after Rebekah lost her High Court libel battle against her fellow footballer’s wife on Friday (July 29).

The total legal costs of the case are thought to be around £3 million, of which Rebekah will now have to pay the lion’s share.

Jack Ridgway, chairman of the Association of Costs Lawyers, said: “Assuming there is no appeal, the costs process will now begin. As the loser, Mrs Vardy will undoubtedly be required to pay Mrs Rooney’s costs, but these will be subject to a court process called assessment.

“This will start with Mrs Rooney’s lawyers delivering their bill – I would expect that to take at least three months – and Mrs Vardy’s lawyers then no doubt disputing elements of it.”

Jack then went on to explain what might happen if the pair can’t settle out of court, as he continued: “There will be negotiations and, if they don’t agree to settle, a specialist judge in the Senior Courts Costs Office will eventually look in detail at the bill and decide what is reasonable and proportionate to make Mrs Vardy pay.

“This approach means that, just because Mrs Rooney has agreed to pay her lawyers a certain amount, the judge won’t necessarily order Mrs Vardy to cover all of it – it is, in fact, rare for a winning party to recover all of their legal costs. As a generalisation, winning parties recover about 70% of their costs.”

Touching on just how expensive the case was expected to be, he also added: “It is likely that Mrs Vardy’s lawyers would have acted under a ‘no win, no fee’ agreement, or at least a ‘no win, discounted fee’ agreement; given how expensive a case it was always likely to be, it would not have been attractive to take it on without a guarantee of being paid something.

“Such agreements are standard in libel cases. That at least reduces her exposure to her own lawyers.”

Jack also revealed that it is likely that Rebecca may have taken out legal expenses insurance to cover herself in the event of a loss, which would limit the amount of cash she would need to shell out as a result of the judgement.

He said: “She will also likely have taken out legal expenses insurance to cover the risk of losing and having to pay Mrs Rooney’s costs, again a standard feature of libel litigation.

“The premium for this would probably have been significant, given that her chances of winning were never clear cut, but if so, the insurer will pay Mrs Rooney’s costs, at least to the limit of the policy.

“Given the money at stake, this is unlikely to be a quick process, even if an agreement can be reached before having to argue the bill in court.

“So while the libel trial has now concluded, the parties may spend another two years litigating about its costs.”


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