Heslop v Metcalfe: 1837

The court referred to the practice that where a solicitor removed himself from a case, an order should be made for the transfer of his file of papers: ‘Undoubtedly, that doctrine may expose a solicitor to a very great inconvenience and hardship, if, after embarking in a cause, he finds that he cannot get the necessary funds wherewith to carry it on. But, on the other hand, extreme hardship might arise to the client if – to take the case which is not uncommon in the smaller practice in the country – a solictor, who finds a poor man having a good claim, and having but a small sum of money at his command, may go until that fund is exhausted, and then, refusing to proceed further, may hang up the cause by withholding the papers in his hands. That would be great grievance and means of oppression to a poor client, who in the clearest right in th eworld, might still be without the means of employing another solicitor. The rule of the Court must be adapted in every case that may occur, and be calculated to protect suitors against such conduct.’ and ‘I then take the law as laid down by Lord Eldon, and, adapting that law, must holdthat Mr Blunt is not to be permitted to impose upon the Plaintiff the necessity of carrying on his cause in an expensive, inconvenient, and disadvantageous manner. I think the principle should be, that the solicitor claiming the lien, should have every security not inconsistent with the progress of the cause.’


Lord Cottenham LC


[1837] 3 My and Cr 183


England and Wales

Cited by:

CitedIsmail and Another v Richards Butler (A Firm) QBD 23-Feb-1996
A solicitor’s lien on papers can be set aside by the court to allow litigation to proceed, where there was a continuing retainer, and the lien was with regard to concluded matters. However, the release of the papers would reduce the value of the . .
ApprovedGamlen Chemical Co (UK) Ltd v Rochem Ltd CA 4-Dec-1979
Solicitors accepted instructions against a promise of sums on account of costs. After non-payment they began to apply to be removed from the record. The new solicitors sought transfer of the solicitors file, and obtained an order to that effect . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Legal Professions

Updated: 16 May 2022; Ref: scu.183177