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Ensuring a client agrees to the terms of a retainer

The judgment of Master Haworth in Murray & Anor v Richard Slade & Company Ltd [2021] EWHC B3 (Costs) serves as a reminder to solicitors to ensure that a client agrees to the terms of a retainer.

In Murray, the client disputed 3 invoices from the solicitors; 1 issue related to Counsel’s fees – the client submitted that he had agreed to an “all-in” fixed fee of £50,000, which included a provision for Counsel’s fees, so was not liable to pay Counsel’s further / increased fees in addition.

The solicitor’s case was that the client had verbally agreed.

The Master could not find any evidence that the client had been advised on the increase in Counsel’s fees (which had resulted from instructing new Counsel) – there was no detailed note of a call / agreement or follow-up email / letter confirming the agreement despite its importance.

As such, and with there no evidence that the client had been advised that Counsel’s further / increased fees (which were £15,000 + VAT more than originally agreed) may not recovered between the parties, the solicitor had failed to comply with CPR 46.9(3) of the CPR.

Consequently, the additional fees of Counsel were disallowed.

If you require advice / assistance in respect of any solicitor / client matters, please contact A&M Bacon Ltd who would be happy to help.

James Parkinson

Costs Lawyer


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