2nd March 2020
In Butler v Bankside Commercial  EWCA Civ 203 in the Court of Appeal Simon Browne QC successfully resisted a client’s challenge to the termination of her CFA retainer by the solicitor under the terms of her CFA for rejecting an opinion about making a settlement with her opponent.
The standard terms of the Law Society Model CFA provided that a solicitor could terminate the agreement with the client if the client “rejected an opinion about making a settlement with an opponent”. In the present case the opponent had made an offer. The solicitor advised a counter offer. This advice was rejected. The retainer was terminated by the solicitor and the client, having instructed new solicitors, went on to a hearing and despite winning the claim failed to beat the opponent’s offer.
In resisting the first solicitor’s fees the client insisted that the relevant clause in the CFA related only to advice on rejecting an offer, not on making an offer. Turner J. rejected that narrow interpretation and his ruling was upheld by the Court of Appeal in favour of the solicitor.
Judgment can be viewed here.