Jess Glass, PA
Fri, 26 May 2023 at 3:56 pm BST
Actress Eva Green is set to receive more than £1 million towards her legal costs after winning her High Court battle over the collapse of an abandoned sci-fi film.
The 42-year-old successfully sued White Lantern Film after production on A Patriot was shuttered in October 2019, claiming she was entitled to her million-dollar (£810,000) fee for the film, despite its cancellation, under the terms of their agreement.
White Lantern Film and lender SMC Speciality Finance (SMC) brought a counterclaim against Ms Green, alleging she undermined the independent film’s production and renounced the contract.
In a judgment in April, Mr Justice Michael Green found in Ms Green’s favour, ruling she was entitled to the fee and dismissing the counterclaim.
The case returned on Friday to the High Court in London, which heard the actress’s estimated legal bill was almost £1.7 million.
Edmund Cullen KC, for the Casino Royale star, made a bid for an interim payment towards Ms Green’s legal fees of £1.4 million, around 83% of the estimate.
However, James Goodwin, for White Lantern Film and SMC, had argued that the “appropriate figure” for the interim payment was £650,000, around 70% of Ms Green’s previous costs budget.
Mr Justice Michael Green ruled that the actress should be awarded an interim payment of £1.2 million, ahead of a further hearing before a specialist judge to finalise the bills which are set to be paid by White Lantern Film and SMC.
During Friday’s hearing, Ms Green also won a bid to have her total legal fees assessed more favourably by a specialist judge.
Mr Cullen told the court the actress had offered to settle the case last year if she was given 900,000 dollars (£728,000) of her fee, with White Lantern Film and SMC taking the remaining money and the accrued interest.
The court heard that as the offer was not accepted, Ms Green’s costs after August 2022 will be assessed on an indemnity rather than a standard basis – a decision which is more favourable to Ms Green in terms of the amount of her legal bill she can recover.
She is also entitled to a 10% interest rate on those costs and a one-off payment of £75,000.
On Friday, Mr Cullen asked for all of Ms Green’s legal fees to be assessed on this more favourable basis.
In written submissions, the barrister said: “The defendants sought to abuse the court process through advancing and maintaining a defence and a counterclaim founded squarely upon false evidence, and the court should signal that such conduct is unacceptable through making an indemnity costs order.”
He told the court: “It was a case built on lies…. They have made that bed, they should have to lie in it.”
Mr Goodwin said there would be little difference practically between the two assessment methods but that the costs should be determined on the usual basis.
He said in written submissions: “The defendants’ conduct has not been ‘outside the norm’ of litigation.”
The barrister added: “It is acknowledged that the court disbelieved the defendants’ witnesses.
“However, it is often the case that parties will present competing factual narratives about what happened, and the court will have to decide which narrative to believe, with the inevitable conclusion that the opposing narrative is disbelieved.”
Mr Justice Michael Green ruled that all of Ms Green’s costs should be looked at on the more favourable basis, adding it was not “ordinary and reasonable conduct” for witnesses to provide “knowingly false” evidence.
He said: “Their defence was essentially based on a lie and I agree that without the false evidence, there would have been no defence to Ms Green’s claim.”
However, the judge did rule that the actress could not claim costs related to the late disclosure of some messages between her and her agent during the trial.