Sir Fraser Morrison, the founder of construction group Morrison, and AWG, the parent company of Anglian Water, are facing legal fees of up to £9m each in their upcoming £130m court battle.
Senior legal sources told Building that the case, which will begin in London's High Court in February and is expected to last nine months, will cost Morrison about £1m a month.
The sources said AWG was likely to face a similar level of fees for the case, which centres on the alleged overpricing of Morrison Construction when it was sold to AWG for £263m in 2000.
AWG claims that Sir Fraser Morrison and Stephen McBrierty, his former head of construction, fraudulently exaggerated Morrison's value at the time of the sale.
AWG's central allegation is that the two claimed Morrison Construction would make a £30m profit in the year to March 2001. In fact, the construction group made a loss of £46m.
Senior legal sources said the case will cost Morrison £1m a month
AWG said in its 2005 annual report that it had spent £4m on the case so far. The report also said Morrison's 2005 operating profit was £9.8m, up from £2.4m in 2004.
The planned start of the trial next month comes after a delay of more than two months. It had been scheduled for 5 December, but was put back when Morrison's senior barrister was taken ill.
The judge, Justice Evans-Lombe, was also forced to stand down when it emerged that he had been a neighbour of AWG's former deputy chairman, Richard Jewson, in Norfolk for 30 years. Jewson was a potential witness in the case.