What happens if a client receives a Statute Bill? And we aren’t talking the usually “delivery” of said Bill, but rather when the client has come into possession of the Bill by some other means? That is precisely what happened in the case of Parvez v Mooney Everett Solicitors Ltd [2018] EWHC 62 (QB).

The relevant facts of the case is that by virtue of an opportunistic challenge to her own Solicitors fees, the Claimant requested the full file of papers from her previous Solicitor following a compromised RTA action. That file of papers was provided to the Claimant at her request and upon it was a copy of a believed-to-be Statute Bill. The Claimant sought to argue that a Statute Bill had been delivered to her and upon that basis sought a Solicitors Act 1974 assessment of the Costs. Mr Justice Soole however rejected that argument, opining as follows:-

“Both in consequence of this principle and as a matter of construction, the court’s power under section 68 [of the Solicitors Act] to order a solicitor to deliver a bill of costs does not entitle the court to order (nor therefore the client to seek) delivery of a specific identified document and thereby to determine the terms and content of the solicitor’s demand or claim for payment.

It is for the solicitor to provide ‘a bill’ of his costs; and for the process of assessment to deal with any challenge thereto. The prohibition against withdrawal of a delivered bill without consent or court order provides further protection for the client.”

He went on to clarify “It is unnecessary to determine whether or not there was a breach of the Solicitors Accounts Rules. Even if there was, this does not entitle the client to treat an undelivered bill of costs as if it had been delivered”.

The case was later appealed by the Claimant. The Rt. Hon. Lord Justice Lewison, on 8th May 2018 swiftly refused the appeal on all grounds including a conclusion that an appeal would have no real prospects of success.

The case represents a welcome obstruction to the unscrupulous influx of challenges we are seeing in the costs world. The Court’s position is firm and stands by the legal profession in respect of properly claimed Solicitor/Own Client Costs further to both the instant case and the decision of Master Leonard in Green & Ors v SGI Legal LLP [2017] EWHC B27 (Costs).

Gemma Taylor