Interim statute bills, the right to challenge them and special circumstances

In Masters v Charles Fussell & Co LLP EWHC B1 (Costs), in a Solicitors Act assessment of costs, it was held by Master Rowley that bills rendered to the Claimant were not interim statute bills and therefore the Claimant still had a right to challenge them, saying, at paragraph 28:

  • “…in order to “make it plain” to a client that he is receiving an interim statute bill, it seems to me that the information given at the outset needs to make clear that there are time limits and indeed give some indication of what those time limits are. The idea that several months, or, in this case, years after the engagement letter and terms and conditions were provided, the client ought to be alive to the fact that he has an entitlement under the Solicitors Act if he challenges bills promptly, seems to me to be far-fetched. There is no mention of the Solicitors Act on the invoices even to prompt such a recollection.”

In the same judgment, in addressing the issue of special circumstances, Master Rowley said at paragraph 66:

  • “…the obvious difficulty in clients bringing proceedings on a monthly basis against their solicitors in order to protect their Solicitors Act rights regarding assessment is always a powerful argument in respect of special circumstances. That is particularly so where the overall sums claimed are large.”

The judgment can be located here: Masters v Charles Fussell & Co LLP [2021] EWHC B1 [2021] EWHC B1 (Costs).

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