Foreign and local lawyers, including Chief Justice Lourdes Sereno, made the Philippine Air Terminals Co. Inc. (Piatco) case a milking cow, earning more than $30 million in attorneys fees, court records show.
A breakdown of the salaries received by these lawyers was contained in the Final Award of the International Court of Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce in Singapore (ICC Case No. 12610), a copy of which was obtained by The Manila Times. The document was a Certified True Copy of the original that was signed by Andrea Carlevaris, secretary general of the ICC International Court of Arbitration, dated October 29, 2012.
The Singapore ruling said the government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) spent $30,888,631.73 for lawyers alone. Sereno received $312,619.54 in professional fees plus additional payment for photocopying and telephone bills in the amount of $23,668.12 for a total of $336,287.66 or P15 million ($336,287.66 x P45 = P15,132,944.7).
The $312,619.54 was adjusted after the GRP filed a Revised Claim by which the legal fees for Sereno amounted to $324,674.37.
A Philippine court has ruled that the attorney’s fees received by foreign, local lawyers and legal consultants are “illegal, unconscionable and void.”
The Mandaluyong Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 213 on August 29, 2014 rejected the government’s petition for recognition and enforcement of a foreign arbitral award because it did not go through public bidding.
The government asked the court to recognize the final ruling of the ICC dated May 10, 2011 by ordering Piatco to pay $6,009,351.66, which includes the litigation expenses and payment of attorneys’ fees to foreign and local consultants, including Sereno. The amount represents 25 percent of the government’s costs of arbitration that Piatco was asked to shoulder.
The ICC ruling also showed that retired Supreme Court Justice Florentino Feliciano received $332,636.23 in professional fees. Construction and valuation experts were paid $3,394,609.34 while the bill for accounting and finance experts reached $1,679,199.04.
Four foreign law offices also received huge sums, but White & Case LLP got the biggest — $22,443,473.16.
Allen & Gledhill LLP received $437,703.76, Rajah & Tan LLP, $210,479.89 and Drew & Napier LLC, $250,834.63.
Meanwhile, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) incurred expenses amounting to $413,778.35 while the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) billed $16,555,74 in expenses.