Orders for delivery of a solicitor's bill

The following Dispute Resolution practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Orders for delivery of a solicitor's bill
  • Court's jurisdiction to order up delivery of a bill
  • Effect of delivery of a statute bill
  • Application
  • What orders can a court make?
  • Additional orders
  • Examples where the court has exercised a discretion under SA 1974, s 68
  • Examples where the court has not exercised its discretion
  • Seeking a pre-action order for delivery up of the client’s documents under SA 1974, s 68

Orders for delivery of a solicitor's bill

Delivery of a bill is generally sought in one of two circumstances:

  1. the solicitor seeks to retain monies on account without delivering an adequate bill

  2. the client considers that the solicitor's demand for an interim payment on account is excessive

Court's jurisdiction to order up delivery of a bill

The High Court has jurisdiction to order the delivery by a solicitor of a bill of costs (section 68 of the Solicitors Act 1974 (SA 1974, s 68)). The costs must be for legal work. In conjunction with this, the court can order delivery up of any documents in the possession, custody or power of the solicitor. The bill of costs and/or the documents do not need to be for contentious business.

The County Court has the same jurisdiction as the High Court in contentious cases where the bill of costs and/or the documents relate wholly or partly to that work.

Note that in both cases, the term 'solicitor' includes assignees of the solicitor.

Effect of delivery of a statute bill

Once a statute bill has been delivered it cannot be withdrawn without either the consent of the client or the permission of the court (which is very hard to obtain).

For detailed guidance on the form of a final bill of costs, see Practice Notes: Form and content of bills and Final client bill.

As to the requirements of a statute bill,

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