DWF in line for over £1.3m from Kensington and Chelsea Council for advice on Grenfell fire disaster

DWF is set to be paid more than £1.3m by Kensington and Chelsea Council for advice given in relation to the Grenfell Tower disaster, which resulted in the deaths of 71 people in June last year.

The council’s legal spend is detailed in a report, approved in a council meeting last night (3 April), by the borough’s director of law Tasnim Shawkat.

The report breaks down the spending on DWF, as at 19 February, as £737,104 to the firm’s regulatory team, £200,431 to its insurance litigation team, and £418,839 to a DWF public inquiry team.

The figures include fees for work in progress.

The report also reveals that Weightmans has also been instructed by the council, owing to “the complexity of the issues arising from the fire and its aftermath”. As of 22 February 2018, the fees spent on Weightmans were £11,858.

The council had also instructed northeast law firm Wilkin Chapman, with Shawkat’s report detailing that the firm has earned £13,000 in fees from the council. Wilkin Chapman regulatory partner Jonathan Goolden stated that the firm provided governance support and advice to the Royal Borough’s monitoring officer in relation to a full council meeting.

The report also proposes a legal budget of £3.5m for issues relating to the Grenfell Tower disaster for the 2018-19 financial year.

In September, Legal Week revealed that DWF and Wilkin Chapman were advising the council in relation to the fire, with DWF’s head of regulatory Steffan Groch leading the firm’s team.

In 2012, Groch led a DWF team that advised Lion Steel Equipment on its £480,000 fine for the corporate manslaughter of an employee who died following a workplace accident. The case was only the third time a company in the UK was convicted under the 2008 Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act.

Separately, an inquiry into the Grenfell disaster is being led by the former Court of Appeal judge Sir Martin Moore-Bick, alongside barristers Richard Millett QC of Essex Court Chambers, Lamb Building’s Bernard Richmond QC, Kate Grange QC of 39 Essex Chambers, and solicitor to the inquiry Caroline Featherstone.

A DWF spokesperson said: “We cannot comment on the fee arrangements or nature of the work being carried out by DWF for Kensington and Chelsea London Borough Council, due to client confidentiality.”

Kensington and Chelsea Council, Weightmans and Wilkin Chapman were contacted for comment.