Andrew Erlam -v- Richard Slade & Company Plc
The onus is on the solicitor to ensure that the client has sufficient information in a comprehensive and comprehendible mannerDistrict Judge Batchelor, Regional Costs Judge, giving judgment : 19th November 2019
In a judgment given this morning by District Judge Batchelor of the High Court in Sheffield, the Court found that bills delivered by Richard Slade & Company to our client, Andy Erlam, were not compliant with the technical requirements of the Solicitors Act and the case law that has grown up surrounding it, and that new bills should be delivered so that Mr.Erlam can, if so advised, ask the Court to assess them under the provisions of the Solicitors Act.
Mr.Erlam was one of the campaigners who brought down the corrupt Tower Hamlets Mayor, Lutfur Rahman, following a Petition to the Election Court in 2014. As a result of his defeat Mr.Rahman was ordered to make a payment on account of the costs of the proceedings in the sum of £250,000.
Richard Slade & Company were instructed to deal with the recovery of that £250,000 as well as other associated matters, including costs assessment, securing and enforcing a charge against a property owned by Mr.Rahman, judical review and bankruptcy proceedings.
Mr.Erlam terminated the retainer in June 2016 when he became concerned about Richard Slade & Company's bills, which ultimately reached just under £237,000.
We issued proceedings to deal with the legal fees on behalf of Mr.Erlam in February 2018, since when they have been hotly contested. At a first hearing in 30th August 2018 - reported here in the Law Society Gazette - Richard Slade & Company were ordered to deliver a new bill, but that order was subsequently set aside on appeal and the matter remitted to a different District Judge.
In today's decision, District Judge Batchelor, reached what was essentially the same conclusion, albeit on different grounds.
Richard Slade & Company have now been ordered to deliver an appropriately detailed statute bill at which point Mr.Erlam will have an absolute entitlement to have the court determine whether or not the amounts charged are reasonable. They were also ordered to pay Mr.Erlam's costs in the sum of £12,500.
A full transcript of the judgment will be published as soon as it is available.
Checkmylegalfees.com really is an excellent company restoring my faith in the legal systemAndy Erlam, 19th November 2019