Since the introduction of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2013 (LASPO), solicitor/own client costs disputes have increased.
The case of Laurence Sprey -v- Rawlison Butler LLP  is a good case to read for anyone who would like to learn more about solicitor/own client costs disputes. The principal issue in the case concerned whether monthly invoices (case funded under a discounted conditional fee agreement) delivered by the law firm to the client were ‘statute invoices’. The ultimate decision was not they were not ‘statute invoices’; the invoices were therefore open to challenge/assessment and were not ‘time barred’ pursuant to s70 of the Solicitors Act 1974.
It has always been important for lawyers to have a good understanding of the Solicitors Act 1974, but that has increased post LASPO, particularly for those lawyers charging (and deducting) success fees and ATE insurance premiums from clients’ damages under post 1 April 2013 Conditional Fee Agreements.
Paragraph 4 on page 2 provides some very useful information in relation to the types of invoices that can be raised (many lawyers do not know that they regularly raise a “chamberlain bill”). Paragraph 6 on page 2 helpfully sets out the time limits for a challenge.
Solicitor/own client costs disputes often arise because the retainer, terms of business and invoicing are not consistent with the lawyer/law firms’ intention. It is important to make sure that you know what invoices you want to raise and you have a process that is consistent with that intention and delivers the invoice you want – without confusion and costs litigation!
At Clarion, we have significant experience in solicitor/own client costs disputes. Therefore, please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.
This blog was prepared by Andrew McAulay who is a Partner at Clarion and the Head of the Costs and Litigation Funding team. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 0113 336 3334.