Q&As

Can a solicitor bring a claim for unpaid fees where the client has made verbal and written promises to pay over a period of time but has subsequently gone bankrupt? If so, what types of claim are available? Note: a member of the client’s family also made a verbal promise to pay.

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Published on LexisPSL on 27/06/2016

The following Dispute Resolution Q&A provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Can a solicitor bring a claim for unpaid fees where the client has made verbal and written promises to pay over a period of time but has subsequently gone bankrupt? If so, what types of claim are available? Note: a member of the client’s family also made a verbal promise to pay.
  • Options available for a solicitor to recover fees
  • Charging order
  • Unjust enrichment
  • Quantum meruit
  • Effect of bankruptcy

Can a solicitor bring a claim for unpaid fees where the client has made verbal and written promises to pay over a period of time but has subsequently gone bankrupt? If so, what types of claim are available? Note: a member of the client’s family also made a verbal promise to pay.

Options available for a solicitor to recover fees

A solicitor can bring proceedings for recovery of fees, subject to section 69 of the Solicitors Act 1974 (SA 1974); see Practice Note: Recovery of costs, solicitor’s rights, and non-statutory assessments.

The extent to which solicitors fees are recoverable will, however, depend on whether they have been statutorily assessed or not. A client may be entitled to seek a statutory assessment of fees under SA 1974, s 70; see Practice Note: Solicitor and client costs—statutory assessments. However even where this is not possible it can still seek a non-statutory assessment. In this situation the solicitor is claiming for a reasonable (unliquidated) sum; see Recovery of costs, solicitor’s rights, and non-statutory assessments—Non-statutory assessments. The section entitled Recovery of costs, solicitor’s rights, and non-statutory assessments—Statutory demands and bankruptcy proceedings sets out how monies can be claimed on an unassessed solicitor’s bill.

Exceptions to this rule are set out in SA 1974, s 69(1); you will note that there is no exception within this statute which prevents a claim being brought

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