Kerry Underwood


with 2 comments

In Spencer-White v Harding Evans LLP [2017] EWCA Civ 434, 14 June 2017

the Court of Appeal unanimously dismissed an appeal against an order awarding judgment to a firm of solicitors on its claim for unpaid fees.

The Court of Appeal also held that the firm was entitled to a lien over all of the files that it held in connection with that client, and that the lien was not limited to the files that related to matters on which there were outstanding fees.

The Terms of Business and the Client Care letter provided that the solicitors were entitled to retain all of the client’s papers and documents until any outstanding sums had been paid.

Furthermore, the fees were to be charged on a time spent basis and therefore on termination, causing the transaction to be abortive, the client still had to pay all of the solicitor’s charges and expenses up to the date of termination.

The transaction in question was the sale of a property.


Written by kerryunderwood

June 28, 2017 at 9:21 am

Posted in Uncategorized

2 Responses

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  1. How do you recover costs then when limitation has expired and the file is now worthless to another solicitor? Surely you can recover the fees through small claims? Or maybe I’m being lazy and I should read the full article!!🙈


    June 29, 2017 at 7:14 am

    • A lien’s value is in its disruptive effect on the client who wants the papers. However it is dressed up, that is the reality – pay up or I prevent you from having your papers. If the papers are of no value to the client, then the lien is clearly worthless.

      None of this prevents the solicitor for suing for costs, provided that the considerable formalities of the Solicitors Act 1974 have been complied with.



      June 29, 2017 at 5:25 pm

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