21 March 2017

Bank of England's legal spend triples

The Bank of England's (BoE) average annual legal spend has more than tripled during the past three years.

Michal Bednarek

Figures obtained by a freedom of information request have revealed that from 2011 to 2013, the BoE’s annual legal spend was two million pounds per year but for the three subsequent years the average figure skyrocketed to close seven million. And the trend to spend for the Bank is on the up with it spending £4.7 million on external counsel in 2014, £8.7 million in 2015 and £7.4 million in 2016.

Major drivers

There have been a number of major contributors to the rising legal bill. For example, the 2014 the inquiry into the extent of its involvement in the foreign exchange market scandal eventually exonerated bank officials from claims they were involved in or were aware of rate rigging cost nearly £3 million alone. Travers Smith was paid £2.2 million for its role in the case while a QC leading the investigation more than £400,000. The overhaul of the UK’s financial regulation in 2013 and the expansion of the bank’s regulatory oversight has also been cited as a reason for the legal cost hike. The spend is not only on external legal advice - it includes recruitment with the bank’s in-house team growing from 46 lawyers in 2014 to 68 in 2016. 

Law firm expenditure

The bank did not reveal the amount it has spent on individual law firms. Historically, it has favoured Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer who advised the bank on the shock Brexit vote. It was reported back in 2013 that the firm received more than £14 million in the former five years with Clifford Chance being recognised as the next highest biller netting £1.4 million at the time. 

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