Sawyer v Dorians Solicitors Limited - £15,000 refund
A clear demonstration of the importance of a client seeking clarity as to whether or not they have been fairly charged for legal fees
Ben Winter of CMLF, who dealt with Mr.Sawyer's case said
"This case highlights why it is so important for clients who may be confused as to whether they have paid the right amount of legal fees to seek legal advice. Despite receiving a substantial settlement, Mr Sawyer still to this day cannot be certain of the exact financial facts surrounding his charges. In personal injury cases, many of our clients are told that it is industry norm for 25% to be deducted from their compensation. Whether or not that is the norm it is not a correct application of the law and it is important to seek legal advice if you have even the slightest concern regarding those fees."
Checkmylegalfees.com have been successful in obtaining a refund of £15,000 for a former personal injury client of Derbyshire based Dorians Solicitors
Mr Sawyer, of Ipswich, was involved in a serious Road Traffic Accident in 2018. Mr Sawyer was offered a lift home by a woman who claimed she had not been drinking. This woman failed to stop at red traffic lights and a vehicle collided into the passenger's side of the vehicle. Mr Sawyer took the full brunt of the force and suffered substantial injurie including nerve damage to the back, shoulder and neck as well as a herniated disk. He lost his job as a result of the accident and injuries sustained and spent a further two years unemployed. The driver of the vehicle was subsequently banned from driving.
Upon his release from hospital Mr Sawyer wanted to seek compensation for his injuries and contacted Claims Management Company InjuryLawyers4U, who referred him to one of their panel members, Dorians Solicitors of Derby. He was told by Dorians that their fees would amount to 25% of his damages if he was successful in obtaining compensation from his opponent.
Mr Sawyer was successful in obtaining £77,000 in compensation and received a payment in July 2019 from Dorians of around £50-£60k after what they described as his contribution to their fees had been deducted. Mr Sawyer says that he received a cheque for his compensation, but no formal bill setting out precisely what they had charged and how it had been calculated. He did not feel 100% certain that his solicitors had charged him correctly.
The maths just didn't add up. I always had a niggling feeling that there was something to be looked at but I didn't know where to startJason Sawyer
Having seen our Facebook adverts Mr.Sawyer instructed Checkmylegalfees.com in 2020 to assist him in checking the legal fees he had paid to Dorians Solicitors and ensure he had not been overcharged.
We first wrote to Dorians Solicitors in June 2020 seeking the file of papers belonging to Mr Sawyer, however later limited the request to just the formal bill that Mr Sawyer, like all clients in his situation, was entitled to. We were told repeatedly that Mr Sawyer had already been provided with a summary bill (formally called a "gross sum bill") upon the settlement of his claim, and that if he wanted the delivery of a detailed bill, he would have to pay Dorians a £180.00 fee to retrieve the file of papers to enable them to do so. We made it clear that Mr Sawyer would not be held to ransom for the delivery of a bill to which he was legally entitled.
Mr Sawyer had at all times denied ever receiving any bill or invoice for Dorians fees, and we made it clear to Dorians on Mr Sawyer's behalf that should a bill not be delivered shortly, an application would be made to the court to compel them to deliver one.
Dorians finally delivered a copy of their summary bill in October 2020, some four months after we began correspondence with them. The bill was for a gross sum of £500.00 and was accompanied by a generic statement outlining what those charges were for. A bill of just £500.00 for a compensation claim worth significantly over £25,000.00 could not be right, and certainly did not fit with the amount that had been deducted by Dorians from Mr. Sawyer's compensation.
Mr Sawyer again denied having previously received this bill, and we made it plain by reply to Dorians that it could not be the case that this was a compliant bill or represent the amount that Mr Sawyer had deducted from his claim for legal fees.
An application under S68 Solicitors Act 1974 (the provision that enables the court to order a solicitor to deliver a compliant bill) was made on behalf of Mr Sawyer in the Senior Courts Costs Office (the division of the High Court in London that specialises in costs claims) seeking an order for Dorians to finally deliver their statute bill.
Just 6 days before the hearing, we received notification that Kain Knight Costs Lawyers had been appointed by Dorians to represent them at Court. It was agreed shortly after that Dorians would deliver a compliant bill in January 2021.
On 21st January 2021, we received notification via Kain Knight that Dorians would like to make Mr Sawyer an offer to refund him £15,000 to bring the whole matter to a conclusion. A compliant bill had still not been provided by this point so it was still not entirely clear exactly what Dorians had charged Mr.Sawyer, and how that figure had been arrived at.
In order to bring the matter to a swift conclusion however, and bearing in mind the current financial climate, Mr Sawyer accepted the offer of £15,000 and this acceptance was communicated to the Defendant's representatives on the same day.
We were surprised to receive an email from Kain Knight on behalf of Dorians the next day seeking to impose terms that had not been part of the original offer.
Mr Sawyer was asked to either accept the agreed refund in instalments of £5,000.00 a month, payable over three months; or to receive full payment within 14 days but be bound by a confidentiality agreement.
Those proposals were immediately rejected. They had not formed part of the offer and, if Dorians could afford to pay within 14 days, then they should do so. Dorians subsequently backed down and complied with the original agreement, making payment of £15,000 and with no restriction on Mr.Sawyer telling his story.
Quite simply from start to finish they were brilliant, they kept me informed every step of the way and were extremely professional. The service was impeccable. I would advise anyone to get in contact with them if they have any doubts about their legal fees.Jason Sawyer, 5th February 2021
This refund will allow me to have some extra financial support during the economic climate we currently live in. Should I have any immediate problems with my back this will allow me to access the right treatment so that I can enjoy my life again