Clifford Chance bill sparks Latvian row

Latvia&#39s prime minister is under attack from his opposition over the size of a Clifford Chance bill.

Andris Berzins has insisted that he will not allow the argument about the firm&#39s fees to destabilise the government, but a row is raging in the country.

It centres on the firm&#39s work for the government in a case against Tilts Communications (TC). The dispute concerns TC&#39s compensation demand for Latvia&#39s decision to cut short telecom group Lattelekom&#39s monopoly period, in which TC is a major shareholder.

Latvia claims TC did not comply with the conditions of the umbrella agreement.

The local press reported that Clifford Chance billed $9m (£6.3m), although sources say that is probably too high. The bill was described as “shocking” and “inappropriately large” by the opposition. Head of the Latvian Privatisation Agency Janis Naglis, who agreed to pay the bill, has now had his right to sign financial documents suspended by the opposition&#39s minister of the economy, Aigars Kalvitis.

Latvia has a coalition government, with the prime minister and Naglis both members of Latvia&#39s Way Party and the minister of the economy a member of the People&#39s Party.

Clifford Chance was unable to comment. White & Case is representing TC.