- Solicitors fail to overturn disallowance of counsel’s fees and costs incurred under 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
- The CFA
- Case details
Practice Compliance analysis: A firm of solicitors (the Solicitors) acted for 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, Mr Moraes, at a higher cost than had been accounted for by the fixed fee. Mr Moraes’s fee was payable in a fixed amount regardless of (a) whether the trial took place or (b) the length of the trial. Mr Murray challenged Mr Moraes’s fee at a detailed assessment hearing, at which the costs judge decided it was an unusual cost which had not been approved by Mr Murray. It was therefore disallowed. Before commencing those assessment proceedings, Mr Murray had requested his file of papers in the CFA-funded matter. The Solicitors had treated this request as a termination of the CFA. The costs judge held that they were wrong to do so and, by refusing to act further, the Solicitors had unlawfully terminated the CFA. Consequently, they were not entitled to be paid for that work. On appeal, the High Court upheld the costs judge’s decisions on both of these points. Written by Alex Bagnall, technical manager at Total Legal Solutions Ltd.
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