Research provided by Thomson Reuters shows that FTSE 100 companies spent approximately £31.3bn over the past year on legal bills as well as compensation and regulatory fines. At the top of the list were banks, who paid out a total of £17.4bn, around 56 per cent of the total amount. This is a substantial increase of 27 per cent from the previous year and is attributed predominantly to PPI mis-selling as well as the Libor and Forex scandals, which were large disputes involving banks’ manipulation of exchange rates. The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) also cited mortgage securitisations and interest rate trades as key contributors to banks’ total payout.
Oil, gas and mining companies followed banks, paying out £7.9bn in legal fees and fines over the past year. The 2010 Deepwater Horizon crisis, for which BP was held responsible, is still making up a large proportion of this figure. As the most popular choice of legal counsel for FTSE 100 companies, Herbert Smith Freehills is set to gain the most from this increase in legal costs. HSF advise 39 FTSE 100 companies, which beats out any other firm, including Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Linklaters, Clifford Chance and Allen & Overy. Hogan Lovells, Addleshaw Goddard, Berwin Leighton Paisner, Clyde & Co, DLA Piper and Norton Rose Fulbright have also successfully represented a number of these FTSE 100 companies and will be sure to take a slice of this legal payout.