Recovery of costs, solicitor’s rights, and non-statutory assessments
Produced in partnership with 4 New Square

The following Dispute Resolution practice note produced in partnership with 4 New Square provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Recovery of costs, solicitor’s rights, and non-statutory assessments
  • References
  • Can a solicitor recover fees?
  • Defence to costs recovery
  • The retainer
  • Retainer terminated unreasonably
  • Who terminated the retainer
  • Suing for recovery of costs
  • Commencing debt recovery proceedings
  • Progressing debt recovery proceedings
  • More...

Recovery of costs, solicitor’s rights, and non-statutory assessments

References

The Solicitors Act 1974 is referred to as the SA 1974 in this Practice Note.

Can a solicitor recover fees?

Whether a solicitor can recover their costs and disbursements will depend on the terms of the retainer between the solicitor and the client as a client will be liable to their instructed solicitors for costs incurred under that retainer.

Where a client fails to pay costs and disbursements, a solicitor can bring proceedings for recovery of their fees but an action to recover costs must be in compliance with SA 1974, s 69. For guidance, see: Suing for recovery of costs.

Defence to costs recovery

It may be possible for your client to allege, as part of their defence, that you acted negligently in doing the work in respect of which the fees are claimed. This was a defence which was raised in the case of Cotterhill Hitchman Solicitors LLP v Guest. However, it was raised late in the day (by the judge, not by the defendant) and the solicitors were not prepared to deal with it. The issue for the Court of Appeal (on the defendant’s appeal) was whether a defence based on a negligent failure by the solicitors to advise at an earlier stage was in fact before the court below and whether it was or would have been open

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