27th November 2018
Simon Browne QC, instructed by Richard Slade & Co, succeeded in persuading the Court of Appeal (Newey LJ, Coulson LJ and Haddon-Cave LJ) that Slade J of the High Court was wrong to hold that to qualify as an interim statute bill, a bill must include both profit costs and disbursements in respect of the period to which it covers.
An interim statute bill under the Solicitors Act 1974 must be (1) signed, (2) delivered, (3) complete and self-contained, and (4) have sufficient narrative. Costs Judge Master James and Mrs Justice Slade held in the lower courts that by billing disbursements at a later date to the monthly profit cost bills (a practice provided for in the solicitor-client retainer), the monthly bills could not be considered “complete and self-contained”. As such, the 12 month period for the client to apply for assessment did not start to run until the rendering of the final bill.
The Appellant firm appealed, contending that a bill for profit costs or disbursements alone can constitute an interim statute bill. Time to request assessment had therefore expired.
In determining the application, the Court of Appeal considered the wording of the 1974 Act, the case of Bari v Rosen, and issues pertaining to practicality and policy.
An article by Simon Browne QC with detailed analysis of the judgment can be found here.