- Costs recovery impacted by both failure to record agreement as well as misunderstanding as to what constitutes termination of a CFA (Murray v Richard Slade)
- What are the practical implications of this case?
- What was the background?
- What did the court decide?
- Counsel’s fees
- Termination of the retainer
- Case details
Dispute Resolution analysis: A firm of solicitors (the solicitors) acted for the claimant, Mr Murray, in two disputes. A fixed fee agreement was agreed in respect of one case and a conditional fee agreement (CFA) was entered into in respect of the other. The solicitors instructed new counsel at a higher cost than had been accounted for by the fixed fee. They claimed that the claimant had agreed to pay a £15,000 supplement to cover counsel’s additional fees. No contemporaneous records of this agreement existed, and the evidence suggested that the claimant had not been informed of the change of counsel until shortly before trial. The Master held that the claimant had not provided informed consent to pay these additional costs, so they were presumed to be unreasonable. The claimant later requested his file of papers in the CFA-funded matter. The solicitors treated this request as a termination of the CFA. The Master held that they were wrong to do so. By refusing to act further, the solicitors had unlawfully terminated the CFA and were not entitled to be paid for that work. Written by Alex Bagnall, technical manager at Total Legal Solutions Ltd.
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