Kerry Underwood


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Kerry is undertaking a 10 city Autumn Tour with his new course – Getting the Retainer Right.

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In Robinson v EMW Law LLP [2018] EWHC 1757 (Ch) (10 July 2018) (Roth J)

the High Court, on appeal from the Senior Courts Costs Office, held that a solicitor engaged as a consultant by a law firm instructed in relation to his own matter could recover legal costs for the time that he had personally spent working on the matter.

Thus the case applies the existing principles in relation to a solicitor-litigant’s ability to recover her or his legal costs for her own time to where a solicitor is engaged as a consultant for a law firm instructed by her or him.

The cases establishing the original principle of a solicitor being able to charge solicitor’s rates for work done as a litigant are contained in


London Scottish Benefit Society v Chorley and others (1884) 13 QBD 872;

Halborg v EMW Law LLP [2017] EWCA Civ 793 (23 June 2017)

Shackleton and Associates Ltd v Al Shamsi and others [2017] EWHC 304 (Comm)).


A separate issue, of wider application, arose as to the date from which the solicitor could recover from the other side ordinary costs that he was liable to pay his own solicitors.

The SCCO said that recovery only ran from the date of the written retainer between client and solicitor and refused to allow recovery in relation to pre-written retainer costs on the basis that the client, who happened to be a solicitor, could not positively demonstrate that he was liable for those costs, in accordance with the indemnity principle.

The High Court stated that that was the wrong way to approach the matter and the issue is whether it could be shown that the solicitors were instructed before the date of the written retainer, and here they clearly were as they were on the record for the client.

If that was the case, then unless it could be established that there was an agreement that the client would not be liable to pay the solicitors’ costs in any circumstances, the presumption was that a party instructing a firm to act for it would be responsible for paying the firm’s fees.

This is a decision of a full High Court Judge and is thus binding on all lower courts.

Written by kerryunderwood

July 24, 2018 at 10:22 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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