The defendant costs specialists

Posts made in March, 2007

Various Claimants v Gower Chemicals Ltd

By on Mar 5, 2007 | 1 comment

A recent decision, Various Claimants v Gower Chemicals Ltd & Others (Cardiff County Court, 28/2/07), has done much to nullify the effect of the old Collective Conditional Fee Agreement Regulations 2000. This was an appeal heard by Mr Justice Field (sitting as a County Court Judge) from a decision of Master Wright of the Supreme Court Costs Office. The decision concerned the operation of Regulation 5 of the Regulations which states: “(1) Where a collective conditional fee agreement provides for a success fee the agreement must provide that, when accepting instructions in relation to any specific proceedings, the legal representative must prepare and retain a written statement containing – (a) his assessment of the probability of the circumstances arising in which the percentage increase will become payable in relation to those proceedings (“the risk assessment”); (b) his assessment of the amount of the percentage increase in relation to those proceedings, having regard to the risk assessment; and (c) the reasons, by reference to the risk assessment, for setting the percentage increase at that level.” The CCFA being considered echoed the wording of the Regulations in the following terms: “5.2 When accepting instructions in relation to any specific proceedings Thompsons must prepare and retain a written statement containing: 5.2.1 their assessment of the probability of the circumstances arising in which the success fee will become payable in relation to those proceedings (“the risk assessment”); 5.2.2 their assessment of the amount of the success fee in relation to those proceedings, having regard to the risk assessment; and 5.2.3 the reasons, by reference to the risk assessment, for setting the success fee at that level.” The Defendants alleged that the Claimants’ solicitors, Thompsons, had breached the Regulations by failing to prepare a three-stage risk assessment in respect of each Claimant in the form envisaged by the Regulations and as required by the CCFA itself. They alleged that this was a material breach of the Regulations such as to render the retainer invalid. Alternatively that the performance of this contractual provision was a condition of the enforceability of the implemented CCFA or that the preparation and retention of a conforming risk assessment was a contractual condition precedent to formation of an individual contract...

Read More