CBS News reports that Andy Coulson, a former tabloid editor and media aide to the British prime minister, is suing News International for refusing to pay his legal fees. Coulson was an editor for News of the World but resigned when a phone hacking scandal came into the media forefront. He was among those arrested for connection with the scandal and has since been represented by the law firm DLA Piper. DLA Piper has stated it has begun legal proceedings against News International, headed by media-mogul Rupert Murdoch, for their apparent repudiation of an agreement to pay Coulson’s legal costs.
As attorneys in both the U.S. and Britain explore the ability to sue News Corp. in U.S. venues, the media company must brace itself for even greater legal expenses. A suit in the states would “broaden the scope of the scandal…and potentially expose it to greater financial penalties.” Not only will there be more victims’ claims to settle, but awards are traditionally “far more generous” in the U.S.
Part of the fee controversy stems from the procedural differences between American and British legal approaches. The British legal team suggested an action brought against News International would begin with taking depositions from officials to expose “corrupt practices.” This strategy is not as common in the U.S., with one law professor calling the process “a fishing expedition.” Either way, an action in the U.S. will certainly result in high publicity and heavy legal costs.