A staggering £4,749,736.32 was paid to lawyers in private practice by the government together with government owned companies in 2023. Of that total, £2,803,091 was shared between Hassans and Isolas.

It is not clear whether the overall figure includes amounts paid in connection with the McGrail Inquiry, but there are clear indications that it does not, for example Charles Gomez & Co, the lawyers for Ian McGrail, are shown as having been paid nothing by government.

The amount paid by government to lawyers in private practice is over and above what is paid in salaries to lawyers directly employed by government.

There is a massive and urgent need to revise this expenditure with a view to making better use of lawyers employed directly by government for the benefit of all taxpayers.


UK lawyers were paid a total of £571,113.36.

Local lawyers take the balance, namely £4,178,642.96.

Interestingly Hassans is shown to have been paid that year the sum of £1,365,178, Isolas £1,437,913.07, Triays £4,390, and TSN £217,529.50. Hassans, Isolas, Triays, and TSN are considered the ‘big’ four firms, despite which Triays received a derisory amount.

To help readers form any opinion, the amounts paid to other Gibraltar law firms in that year were, Cruz Law £247,533.54, Peter Caruana & Co £426,930, Charles Gomez & Co £0 (rather glaring), Jamie Trinidad £23,735.40, Attias & Levy £59,455, Philips LLP £20,085, Mr. J Rodriguez £38,050, and Benzaquen &Co £519,240.

Readers are left to reach their own conclusions from those figures. One might be that it is rather helpful, in terms of earnings, for a lawyer to be elected to Parliament.


The impact on politics in Gibraltar of lawyers’ earnings is not a new phenomenon. As far back as 30 years ago, when the GSLP were in Government under Sir Joe Bossano, elements of concern were being expressed to the Foreign Office by the then Governor, Admiral Sir Derek Reffell KCB.

He reported that Sir Joshua Hassan had asked to see him. At the meeting Sir Joshua “… confirmed that [Peter] Montegriffo is about to announce his withdrawal from politics. He was clearly upset personally by the decision, which he said would put back democracy in Gibraltar by ten years.”

“Hassan explained that his law firm is dependent for a significant proportion of their business on clients pointed in their direction by government… the Government has continued to pass work to the firm, probably because the partners involved have done the work quickly and well.”

In a separate report:

“Apparently, the GSD’s good showing in a recent opinion poll indicating at the least that the GSD was on track to be the official Opposition, has prompted the partners … in Hassan & Partner, to present Montegriffo with an ultimatum- get out of politics or leave the firm. It appears that the firm themselves have come under some pressure from some members of the GSLP Government … to the effect that the Government may have to review the large amount of legal business they give to Hassan & Partners while the leader of the most effective opposition party is working for them.”


A reversal of expenditure of public monies on legal fees is necessary, as well as how any such expenditure is distributed among different lawyers. A change is only possible with a deep reform in our constitutional system of government involving the introduction of proper checks and balances.

Those checks and balances will also help eradicate ‘preferred’ recipients of public funds generally. Especially those who are paid without any proper independent tendering, like amounts paid to lawyers.

In the case of lawyers, there is the added aggravation that it is a group that is, historically and now, disproportionately represented in Parliament and in Government.


Drastically to reduce the cost to the public purse of fees paid to private law firms, and, importantly, the commitment not to favour the firms of politicians, are two obviously broken manifesto promises made by the GSLP-Liberal in the 2011 elections that are worthy of being remembered.

Yesterday the huge cost, in the sum of £4.8 million in 2023, to the public purse of wealthy lawyers in private practice was highlighted, with amounts paid to firms with current and some past politicians featuring embarrassingly high. A full record of payments made can be seen there.


The 2011 manifesto promise is best set out in full to avoid any political attempt to wriggle out of it. It stated:

“We believe that the Government’s legal work should primarily be handled by the Counsel employed in HM Attorney General’s Chambers.”
“Here we will increase the number of Senior Crown Counsel.”
“Where the necessary expertise is not available “in-house” it should be outsourced.”
“The process of outsourcing legal work must be done fairly and equitably – and legal work must not be given to one or another set of Chambers who may be close to one Minister or another.”
“We will ensure that all legal services procured from the private sector for Government provide value for money, are provided by practitioners with recognised expertise in their field and…”
“… are evenly spread throughout the legal community.”

Let us begin from the end, but reference should be had to what is written in yesterday’s blog.


Can the conclusion be reached that government legal work has been “evenly spread”?

The answer can only be a resounding “NO”.

Many lawyer’s are not mentioned, amongst those who are, it is significant that Charles Gomez & Co got £0 in 2023, and Triays, one of the ‘big four’, only got £4,390. It should not be deduced from that statement that expenditure should be more evenly spread. The efforts should be to reduce it, as promised in the GSLP-Liberal Manifesto.

Can the conclusion be drawn that the public has got value for money, and have been by those with “recognised expertise”? Has outsourcing been fair and equitable?

Those questions are unanswerable objectively, but each reader can reach their own conclusion after considering the blogs of yesterday and today. It is significant that firms with politicians seem to do better. A historical check of public figures will show that this is a hugely prevalent reality.

Has the very specific promise that, “… legal work must not be given to one or another set of Chambers who may be close to one Minister or another” been kept?

Well one must wonder! Hassans (£1,365,178) and Isolas (£1,437,913) received the bulk of fees paid from the public purse in 2023. It was a total of £2,803,091. Both those firms had senior ‘partners on sabbatical’ as ministers in 2023.

Have the GSLP-Liberals increased the number of Senior Crown Counsel in the public service?

The increases in those during their years in office are palpable, as is the employment of lawyers in different departments. It seems, however, that has served to increase, not reduce, reliance of the government on private sector lawyers.

It has also served to greatly increase the cost of the provision of legal services to the public sector, which is not calculated into the figure publicised for private sector assistance. Senior public servants should have the training and experience to rely on their own judgment and be less dependent on lawyers.

The promise was that “Where the necessary expertise is not available “in-house” it should be outsourced” but why has nothing been done to reduce that cost?

It is obvious that the engagement of more lawyers has not served to reduce the cost. It seems to have upped it!


What may go some long way to solve it is a study of what areas of specialism is most needed, and the consequent employment of lawyers in those fields. If that is five, then at an annual salary of a respectable £200,000, which is needed to compete with employment in the private sector, the public purse would still be saving a huge amount!

Outsourcing would then be directly to specialists in vastly more limited fields that are available only in the larger jurisdiction that is England. Even then, that should primarily be in the form of carefully obtained legal opinions that will allow much follow on work to be done locally.