Robinson v EMW Law LLP [2018] EWHC 1751 (Ch.)



Judge: Roth J.  

Citation: [2018] EWHC 1751 (Ch.)

Summary:

A non-retrospective agreement on fees did not mean that there had been agreement to do the pre-dating work for free. Further, where a claimant is a solicitor who has worked on their own case, they can recover the reasonable rate of their costs from a Defendant on the basis that by doing the work themselves, they did not have to pay another solicitor to do it.

Longer text:

A solicitor, who left one firm and joined another as a consultant, settled litigation with his former firm on favourable terms.  The firm he had joined as a consultant had acted on his behalf throughout the litigation.  On detailed assessment, the Costs Judge found that since the firm had not sent a Client Care Letter and charged the work done by the solicitor himself at its usual rate, disallowed those costs.  On appeal, the Court found that the engagement direct did not have to be by way of a written retainer.  The new firm had been on the record from the outset.  It did not matter that the Client Care Letter had not been sent until the proceedings were well underway, nor that it was not retrospective.  There was no agreement that the solicitor would not be liable for the firm’s costs in any circumstances.  The presumption in R v Miller (Raymond Karl)[1] came into play.  The solicitor could recover his costs for the work he did under the principle in London Scottish Benefit Society v Chorley[2], which applied equally to a practising solicitor who instructed another firm to act for him, but who relieved that firm of part of the work required by doing it himself.  The solicitor was making a claim for expenditure in terms of measurable skill and labour, and was entitled to recover on the basis that his carrying out the work himself meant that he did not have to pay another solicitor to do it.  The amount payable was to be assessed on the basis of a reasonable rate for the services which he carried out.

[1] (1983) 1 WLR 1056

[2] (1884) 13 QBD 872

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