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Setback for Checkmylegalfees - ATE policy is not a Solicitor Disbursement


A costs judge in the case of Bendriss v Nicholson Jones Sutton Solicitors Ltd has criticised the spending of a whopping sum of more than £28,000.00 in tryingto secure documents to challenge the recovery of an after-the-event insurance premium of £392.00.

This case concerned an application by the claimant for specific disclosure against the defendant solicitors relating to an After-the-Event (ATE) Insurance Premium, which the claimant sought to challenge as part of a larger dispute over legal fees.

The claimant had been charged an ATE Insurance premium as part of her legal costs, which she sought to challenge.  The application itself was for specific disclosure of documents that the claimant believed would reveal the nature of the ATE premium and any potential ‘secret commissions’.

The court focused on the proportionality of the application versus the costs of the ATE premium which was less than £400.00 and Cost Judge Rowley considered the principles set out in the Court of Appeals decision in Herbert v H & H Law Limited together with the Solicitors Act 1974.

The court dismissed the application for specific disclosure finding that this was not proportionate to the costs involved and that the ATE premium was not a solicitor disbursement defined in the Solicitors Act 1974.

A disbursement is defined as a solicitor disbursement if either a) it is a payment that the solicitor is obliged to make whether or not put in funds by the client, ie. court fees, counsel fees, or witness’ expenses, or b) there is a legal obligation or professional custom to treat it as such as in Herbert v HH Law.

The decision serves as an important reminder of what constitutes a solicitor disbursement, and that the court will look at proportionality, especially in disputes over legal costs.

See link to judgement here:


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