Bilkus v Stockler Brunton (A Firm): CA 16 Feb 2010

Solicitors appealed against the rejection of their claim for an uplift in their fees amounting to andpound;50,000, based on the value element in the transaction in the 1994 Order. The court had to decide whether the matter came under the rules as a contentious or non-contentious matter. There had been a dispute as to the ownership of a share in a company. Litigation was successful, and it was then decided to assert that there had been prejudicial management of the company, but this was settled and much work undertaken as to the valuation of the share. No new terms of acting were supplied.
Held: Whether work done by solicitors is contentious or non-contentious depends not on the nature of that work, but on whether it was done ‘in or for the purposes of proceedings begun before a court or before an arbitrator’. Thus work done in relation to a valuation carried out by an independent expert, even though highly disputed, is not intrinsically contentious. Work done after the completion of proceedings is done not for the purpose of those proceedings, but in consequence of those proceedings, but in this case the valuation was as part of implementing the court’s order, and it was contentious business for which no uplift was available.
There was no error in law in the Master’s refusal to allow the solicitors to amend their bill.

Ward LJ, Longmore LJ, Stanley Burnton LJ
[2010] 1 WLR 2526, [2010] 8 EG 104, [2010] 3 All ER 64, [2010] 2 Costs LR 237, [2010] CP Rep 25, [2010] EWCA Civ 101
Bailii, Times
Solicitors Act 1974 57 59, Solicitors (Non-Contentious Business) Remuneration Order 1994
England and Wales
CitedPolak v Marchioness of Winchester CA 1956
The paying party objected that Counsel’s bill had not been paid at the time the solicitors’ bill was presented.
Held: The court had an inherent jurisdiction to permit a solicitor to withdraw his incorrect bill of costs and to substitute a . .
CitedO’Neill and Another v Phillips and Others; In re a Company (No 00709 of 1992) HL 20-May-1999
The House considered a petition by a holder of 25 of the 100 issued shares in the company against the majority shareholder. The petitioner, an ex-employee, had been taken into management and then given his shares and permitted to take 50% of the . .
CitedC v C 1997
The parties contested the costs of conveyancing work undertaken as a result of ancillary relief proceedings. It was assumed that the work was non-contentious. . .
CitedRe Catlin CA 1854
Sir John Romilly MR said: ‘It is, I am informed, well established in practice that where a solicitor has delivered a bill of costs to his client, and proceedings between the parties have been taken to tax it under the statute, no alteration can be . .
CitedSadd v Griffin CA 1928
Farwell LJ said: ‘it is settled beyond controversy that the solicitor is, for the purposes of taxation, bound by the bill that he has delivered and cannot alter it without the leave of the Court or the consent of the party.’ . .
Master’s DecisionBilkus v Stockler Brunton (A Firm) SCCO 11-Nov-2008
Master Gordon-Saker refused to permit the Solicitors to substitute their proposed amended bill, on the ground that he could not be satisfied that the error in describing the claim for andpound;50,000 as an uplift in relation to all the work that . .
Appeal fromBilkus v Stockler Brunton (A Firm) ChD 30-Jul-2009
The court upheld the refusal of the master to allow the claimant solicitors to submit an amended bill: ‘In his oral submissions, Mr Stockler . . frankly acknowledged that he had been in error in supposing that it was possible to charge an uplift for . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Costs, Legal Professions

Updated: 11 November 2021; Ref: scu.400993