OFSI issues a Legal Fees General Licence

On 28 October 2022 the Office of Financial Sanctions published a General Licence that permits the payment of legal fees owed by individuals and entities designated under the Russia and Belarus regimes: OFSI Blog. The licence can be found here.

As you will note, according to OFSI:

1. For legal work where a law firm or barrister was engaged before the designation of the individual or entity, there is a £500,000 (inc. VAT) cap on the amount that can be claimed over the duration of the licence.

2. For all legal work commenced post-designation, users of the licence will need to demonstrate through their reporting obligations that all fees which have been paid are reasonable. This will be done by providing details of hourly fees, workstreams, and evidence that overall fees are at or below a cap of £500,000 (inc. VAT). This cap applies to a designated person’s total legal fees per case and the cap “can be used separately by multiple legal firms involved in a case”.

3. Those who use the licence must provide a report to OFSI when their use of the General Licence has ended, or upon the expiration of the General Licence for work that has been paid for under the General Licence.

Update, 7 November 2022: the above should now be read subject to the observations of Foxton J in VTB Commodities Trading v JSC Antipinsky [2022] EWHC 2795 (Comm), at [30]-[40] and [69]