Solicitors took ‘unfair advantage’ of a client by deducting costs, court hears. The Court of Appeal heard that lawyers making deductions from their clients’ compensation payments without making clear that this would happen, took an “unfair advantage” to it.
Responding to the appeal in Belsner v CAM Legal Services today, PJ Kirby KC said the law firm did not have its client’s informed consent to take around £321.50 that was not recovered from the defendant in a PI claim.
He went on to explain that when the firm agreed a retainer without setting out exactly how deductions would be made the firm ‘at that stage put themselves in conflict with the client.
He added: ‘You didn’t spell it out and you could have spelt it out and you were obliged to spell it out in terms of your duties. The unfairness is that the client was not told about the level of fixed costs and did not have the opportunity of making a decision.’
In his response, Benjamin Williams KC, representing CAM Legal, accepted there had been a ‘regrettable disconnect’ between what the documents said and what the firm’s practices were. He added that the deduction was ‘modest and fully in-keeping with [Belsner’s] expectations’.