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Court of Appeal backs firms in unpaid bills case

3rd May 2012

The Court of Appeal (CoA) has ruled that solicitors and law firms who carry out work for clients who refuse to pay their legal bills are allowed to suspend delivery of their services.

The judgement, which will set a precedent for future actions, was delivered after a case was heard involving a client who claimed that the fee he was charged exceeded that set out by the firm’s retainer letter.

Whilst Mr Justice Cranston overruled the lawyers’ argument that the client should be held liable for all outstanding bills (he explained their letter should have indicated that their eventual fee could have been higher than the initial estimate), the judge also decided that the organisation was within its rights to stop working for the man in question.

The ruling will be welcomed by solicitors who take on legal jobs for individuals or businesses and consequently discover that the people they advise do not have the means to pay them for what they have done.