“However if the matter is settled pre-issue and costs are sought from the other side, with an additional charge to be made to the client as is usual, then it is arguable that on assessment the client could rely upon Section 74(3) in the absence of this clause being.

The counter-argument is that it is not contentious business and Section 74(1) specifically applies only to contentious business.

It is simply not worth taking the risk. Include the wording.”

Kerry Underwood

Few lawyers realise that they are not allowed to charge a client anything beyond costs recovered from the other side in any County Court matter, even a multi-track matter, unless they have the client’s written agreement expressly permitting a greater amount to be paid.

This becomes of greater importance as fixed costs spread to all types of work and with a higher damages limit.

In the absence of this wording, solicitors, and indeed counsel, are limited to the costs recoverable from the other side.

In a small claim this is virtually nothing and in any portal or fixed costs claim it is uneconomic.

In any other case it effectively means that the maximum charge to the client is the guideline hourly rate for the particular level of fee earner and the particular geographical area.

In the event of defeat the same rules apply as the law is that the charge…

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