The High Court has dismissed an appeal from a former personal injury client who wanted to challenge the 60% deductions from her damages.

In Holcroft v Thorneycroft Solicitors, Mr Justice Eyre agreed with the district judge that the parties had agreed the costs settlement and there were no grounds now to contest it. Exchanges from August 2020 showed a binding agreement that the settlement offer for the PI claim was £24,200 and that the client would receive £9,865, the judge said.

North west firm Thorneycroft had acted for Ashley Holcroft after he had been injured in an RTA in 2018.

Thorneycroft had set out in its engagement letter that where a claim was subject to fixed recoverable costs, then the client was liable to pay basic charges. If the case settled within 18 months, costs were estimated at £4,000 to £6,000, while costs could rise to £9,000 if the matter proceeded to trial.

The firm wrote to Holcroft in August saying the insurers for the at-fault driver had offered to settle for £24,200 and that this would result in the client receiving £9,865. The deductions were based on £9,000 profit costs (which had been reduced by the firm), £1,800 VAT and £2,910 to cover disbursements for medical reports.

Thorneycroft advised that the offer was ‘very much a good one’ and should be accepted. This letter was accompanied by an acceptance form which provided spaces for Holcroft to sign, which he duly did.

After the firm sent its bill a few months later, Holcroft commenced section 70 proceedings.

The firm contended that the parties had entered a binding agreement and that the client was not able to challenge the breakdown of the settlement figure. District Judge Batchelor, sitting at Sheffield County Court, ruled that Holcroft could not renege on the binding agreement.

On appeal, Mr Justice Eyre said the firm’s letter had been clear in setting out the amount the client would receive if the settlement offer was accepted. Holcroft had been seen to be agreeing that he would not seek any further payment.

The judge added: ‘No one factor is conclusive but I am satisfied that on a proper analysis the August 2020 exchanges amounted to an agreement not only that the offer of £24,200 would be accepted but also as to the division of that sum between the appellant and the respondent.’


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