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4 January 2022
Solicitors lose £36k plus costs in client dispute
London law firm Richard Slade & Co (RS) has lost its appeal against a decision of Master Haworth who had held that it had terminated its retainer with its client without good cause or reasonable notice.
James Murray v Richard Slade & Co  EWHC 3383 (QB) concerned a solicitor client dispute where RS were instructed by Mr Murray in a professional negligence claim. The outstanding fees in dispute amounted to £16,200. Additionally, RS also sought counsel's fees of £20,000.03, relating to a separate but substantial declaratory relief claim where RS had acted for Mr Murray's parents. A claim of £6,000 was made for costs.
RS relied upon a letter of complaint from Mr Murray, which was treated by them as terminating a CFA and, in their view, amounting to repudiatory breach. The Master had found that, contrary to what was asserted by RS, the CFA retainer had not been terminated and disallowed the £16,200 fees. He also awarded £21,000 costs of the preliminary issues hearing to Mr Murray.
25 November 2021
Master criticises 50k costs in 3k data claim
Master Thornett has criticised the level of costs in a 'very modest' data breach claim. In Johnson v Eastlight Community Homes Ltd  EWHC 3069 (QB), the Claimant had sought over £50,000 including £15,000 of incurred costs and had suggested a two-day trial in the case where it is also making additional claims for alleged breaches under Article 8 ECHR, GDPR, the Data Protection Act as well as injunctive relief, the latter of which the master described as 'misconceived'
In his judgment, Master Thornett said the claim was factually straightforward. The Claimant is a tenant of the Defendant who requested her rent statement, which was inadvertently circulated to one-third party, who immediately notified the Defendant, and the emails were deleted. The Defendant admitted the breach, apologised, and reported the matter to the Information Commissioners Office.
19 November 2021
SRA proposes changes in power to fine
The SRA has opened a consultation that could lead to a shake-up of its powers to fine law firms for lower-level offences. The body oversees some 10,000 law firms and under the proposals, the income of the firms would be considered with fines up to a maximum of up to 5% of annual turnover being proposed for larger firms.
Other proposals include introducing a schedule of penalties from £800 up to £1,500 for offences such as failing to respond to the Anti Money Laundering risk assessment declaration. The aim is to speed up and streamline the process, which can often become administratively cumbersome.