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Zaera-Polo sued over unpaid legal fees

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Break-up of Foreign Office Architects set to play out in High Court as law firm Mishcon de Reya serves writ for £200,000-plus

Leading lawyers Mishcon de Reya is headed for a High Court showdown in a row with architect Alejandro Zaera-Polo.

According to legal documents, Zaera-Polo owed more than £200,000 in legal fees to the solicitors he instructed to handle the split of his former practice, Foreign Office Architects (FOA), in late 2009. Despite allegedly having already paid more than £1 million to his legal representatives, the architect was served with a claim for £228,567.74 as well as interest of £8,651.90 and further interest of £50.09 a day.

Born in Madrid, Alejandro Zaera-Polo, 48, founded Alejandro Zaera-Polo Architecture (AZPA) in June 2011. Based in London and Barcelona, his practice was set up in the wake of the much-publicised split between Zaera-Polo and his former wife, Farshid Moussavi, who went on to found her own firm.

The High Court will hear Zaera-Polo called in Mishcon de Reya to act for him in October 2009, giving ‘general advice to his company’. In court papers seen by the AJ, Mishcon says it sent a total of 37 bills for professional services, but a large part remain outstanding, despite a final demand sent in March.

Mishcon de Reya is a high-profile firm and acted for the late Princess of Wales in her divorce.

In a separate action, Mishcon de Reya is suing AZPA for fees totalling £132,103.37.

The firm was sent invoices for work done in 2011, totalling £160,866.40 but at the time of issue had paid only £28,763.03, leaving an outstanding balance
of £132,103.37, it is alleged.

Zaera-Polo, a visiting Professor at Princeton and Yale Schools of Architecture, told the AJ: ‘Your information is only partially right. Numbers are wrong and some of them are wild speculation.’

Last year the architect said he wanted to ‘rebuild a practice similar to FOA, with a mid-size, international profile and a diverse portfolio of projects’.

Postscript (August 2012)

A Mishcon de Reya spokesperson said that ‘the case has settled’ but that the terms of the settlement were confidential.

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