I read Mr Greenwood’s letter, ‘Retired litigator’s harsh lessons’, with a grim smile.
Three years ago I secured an award of damages on behalf of a client whose solicitor had let her down. As a result of a failure to carry out even rudimentary ID checks, the client’s ex-husband was able to release all the equity in the former marital home and have the funds diverted to himself. He spent them and as a result of his fraud served time in prison. The client received £25,000 by way of damages upon settlement by consent – more money than she had ever seen before – and we recovered our costs including after-the-event insurance premium and success fee.
I would not dream of touching the case now. Our costs were about £12,000 plus success fee agreed at 65% plus VAT. There were no disbursements other than ATE insurance. Only one ATE insurer was prepared to offer terms, on a pursuit basis at 92% of the sum of the client’s disbursements plus opponents’ costs.
The opponents had employed ‘hotshot’ City lawyers who charged fees of £22,000. If the claim had been pursued under the current rules my client would have had to pay the insurance premium (£20,240) plus insurance premium tax at 6% (£1,214.40) and the success fee (£7,800) plus VAT on the success fee(£1,560).
What price access to justice?
Howard Shelley, K.J. Conroy & Co, Birmingham