Belsner-v-Cam - Are you ready for the World to change?

Posted by Michelle Barron on 8th July, 2022 in Opinion and categorised in .

We are here to navigate your way through this minefield 

At the end of February, the Court of Appeal took the rare step of adjourning the hearing in Belsner-v-Cam and directing that the hearing re-start  afresh, with new skeleton arguments by 31st July 2022. 

What’s important about this case? Well, this is an appeal against the High Court decision in Belsner v Cam Legal Services Limited [2020] EWHC 2755 (QB) and it is likely to prove the most significant costs case of the year. 

It will determine profession wide consequences for solicitor-own client costs and potentially generate a wave of far reaching disputes. 

The points of principle surround informed consent and the ability to recoup from your client what you haven’t been able to recover between the parties. The key points of the appeal are: 

1. Whether section 74(3) of the Solicitors Act 1974 applies to cases where no proceedings are issued. 

2. The proper construction of rule 46.9(2) and whether compliance with it requires informed consent on the part of the client. 

3. Whether a fiduciary duty applies to a solicitor when negotiating her own remuneration and how that might be discharged. 

4. Whether the Consumer Rights Act 2015 has any application to a solicitor’s remuneration. 

All this has substantial implications for every retainer and engagement documentation, especially the Law Society Model CFA and CFAs based upon it. 

How confident are you that your retainers stand up to scrutiny? Are you prepared for a solicitor and own client costs dispute once you have dealt with the between the parties assessment? 

You must be prepared to review your retainers and check if the advice on costs contained, especially in conditional fee agreements adequately explain to your client the likely charges they face. This will lead to a careful consideration of how they draw your bills of costs and in turn final bills to your client, as well as how you approach costs estimates at the start, and along the way. 

Burcher Jennings, have a depth of longstanding and vastly experienced Costs Experts to help you navigate these issues, whether that be an early warning advice on your retainers, or the practical preparation of your bill of costs, solicitor and client costs advice and of course our excellent advocacy skills, if you have to go to court. 

If you require assistance, please get in touch. 

For further information please contact Michelle Barron 0870 7777 100 or Martyn Jennings, 0870 7777 100