Harrison v Eversheds LLP  EWHC 2594 (QB)
David McCann of Hanover Law was solicitor retained by Mr Harrison, the Claimant in proceedings against Eversheds LLP, challenging the sum that his former solicitors wished to charge him for a significant piece of litigation.
The question that the Court had to determine is what was a reasonable sum for the Claimant to pay.
What was clear from the costs proceedings is that a number of costs estimates had been provided by Eversheds. What was necessary for the Court to consider was as follows:-
- When the Court are assessing a sum that a client should pay to their solicitor when the costs exceed an estimate given, what is the sum that it is reasonable for the client to pay?
- An estimate is not a quotation of fees. It is what it says. It estimates what the costs are and that has to be based on what the solicitor at the time can reasonably expect to incur for the work that needs to be done. It has, however, to be acknowledged that a client is entitled to place some reliance on the estimate.
- So, even if all the work undertaken by the solicitor in the case after an estimate has been given is reasonably undertaken and the costs themselves are reasonable in amount, nevertheless if it is that the sum that the solicitors then seek to recover from their client exceed what is reasonable in all the circumstances to expect the client to pay, the excess will not be recoverable.
This was a case that was determined by Master Rowley, a specialist Costs Judge, and proceeded to appeal before Mrs Justice Slade DBE in the High Court.
Mr Harrison succeeded in his appeal of the decision of Master Rowley.
If, therefore, you find yourself in a situation where you believe the sum that you are now being charged is in excess of what is a fair and reasonable sum then it is important that you are aware of the process that you would need to follow to challenge the demands being made by your solicitors. It is also important that any challenge is done quickly as, if it is not, you may lose the right to successfully challenge the fees.