Can a solicitor be personally liable to pay costs?

Can a solicitor be personally liable to pay costs?

By David Corker

The possibility that a firm of litigation solicitors, despite acting properly for a client in advancing their interests, could nonetheless end up being held liable to pay a huge costs order, is unsurprisingly something that would sound alarm bells across the profession.

This is a possibility that was raised in DLA Piper UK LLP v BDO LLP (the major firm of City solicitors versus a major firm of accountants).

The judgment of the Administrative Court will be of considerable interest to solicitors specialising in litigation - especially fraud cases.

The case relates to whether a solicitor acting for an applicant can be found personally liable to pay the costs of the respondent, following the court's refusal to grant an application to issue a witness summons against the respondent.

DLA represented a client who was charged by the Serious Fraud Office with fraud offences concerning a company called Torex Retail Ltd, of which the client had been a director. Prior to his trial, DLA sought disclosure of a substantial amount of its documents from BDO, who had acted as Torex's auditors. BDO refused to comply, and so DLA applied to the Crown Court for the issuance of a summons, which would order BDO to disgorge the documents. BDO decided to contest this vigorously and instructed eminent solicitors and lead

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About the author:

David Corker has a formidable reputation as a criminal and regulatory litigator. He is ranked as a key individual (Band 1) in the fields of Criminal Fraud and Crime and Cartel Defence by Chambers 2014, and as a leading individual for Fraud by Legal 500 2013 2.

David specialises in acting for clients implicated in criminal or regulatory investigations, many of them international.  He has many years’ experience of fraud, corruption cases and cartel investigations and also maintains a thriving general criminal practice.

David has acted for clients in almost every large criminal fraud case undertaken by the Serious Fraud Office. He has considerable experience in international criminal cases involving, for example, allegations of corruption, money laundering or cartels. In relation to Financial Conduct Authority investigations, his work has focused on alleged insider dealing, boiler room frauds and misleading the market.