Bills for profit costs with separate later disbursements only bills can be statute bills says Court of Appeal

In Slade t/a Richard Slade and Company v Boodia & Ors [2018] EWCA Civ 2667 27 November 2018 the Court of Appeal overturned a controversial decision of Slade J in which he had upheld a finding of Costs Master James that a series of bills for profit costs with later bills for disbursements could not be treated as interim statute bills.

The Appellant firm had acted for Mr & Mrs Boodia for a three year period during which they delivered 61 invoices, 43 of which were for profit costs and 18 for disbursements. The Boodias issued a claim for seeking assessment of all of the bills delivered. Master James considered the time limits that applied under S.70 of The Solicitors Act 1974, and concluded that the Appellant had rendered a series of on account bills that culminated in a later final bill and therefore none of the earlier bills were statute bills.

Upholding that decision Slade J rejected the argument that such a decision would lead to practical difficulties in rendering bills that contain charges for profit costs and disbursements for the same period stating that the difficulties were outweighed by the certainty this would provide for the client.

That view was rejected by the Court of Appeal which held that such an approach would have unsatisfactory implications as solicitors would be unable to raise invoices to their clients until they themselves had been invoiced for all disbursements during the relevant period.

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Afqar Dean

Costs Lawyer & Director of Legal Costs

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