Legal Services Commission v Henthorn: QBD 4 Feb 2011

The claimant sought to recover overpayments said to have been made to the defendant barrister in the early 1990s. Interim payments on account had been made, but these were not followed by final accounts. The defendant, now retired, said that the claims were defeated by limitation and laches and were an abuse of process because of long delay by the claimant.
Held: The case of Rasool was on point and settled it that the relation between the lawyer and his client under the legal aid system remained the same despite the funding arrangement under legal aid. Under that arrangement the claimant could have begun its claim, time ran from the date that the work under the certificate was actually completed and all but two of the claims were time barred.
The claimant also claimed in restitution. However, ‘the exclusive remedy available to the LSC is that provided for by regulation 100(8)’ and no restitutionary claim could arise on the basis of the claims pleaded, and if it were available it would now be defeated by laches and limitation. Similarly the claimant had been unreasonable or unfair in its use of its powers in this way. The claim for abuse of process succeeded.
‘the Regulations gave the LSC full powers to obtain all necessary information and also provided strict time limits for the assessment process. What regrettably occurred throughout the 1990s was a culture of acquiescence in which the LSC did not seek regular reports on stale cases, did not exercise its powers of discharge when cases went to sleep and were not reported on, did not ensure that bills that were lodged for taxation outside the three month period permitted by the RSC were subject to penalties so as to discourage such delays and did not require solicitors who delayed in lodging bills of costs to lodge them under threat of discharge and consequent non-payment. In any event, it is not possible to identify the ingredients of the relevant cause of action by reference to the relaxed way in which the regulations were implemented.’


Anthony Thornton QC J


[2010] EWHC 3329 (QB)




Civil Legal Aid (General) Regulations 1989, Limitation Act 1980


England and Wales


CitedCoburn v Colledge CA 5-Apr-1897
A solicitor commenced an action on June 12th, 1896 for his fees for work which had been completed on May 30th 1889.
Held: A period of limitation runs from the date on which the ingredients of the cause of action are complete. The statute of . .
CitedLondon Borough of Hillingdon v ARC Limited CA 7-Apr-1998
The company sought compensation for land taken under compulsory purchase powers by the defendants several years before. It now appealed against the defeat of its claim as time-barred.
Held: The appeal failed. The limitation period for a claim . .
CitedLegal Services Commission v Rasool CA 5-Mar-2008
The defendant had in 1993 obtained legal aid. Work was done but the certificate was then revoked. The Commission sought repayment of the sums paid on account to his solicitors. He replied that the claim was out of time. The Commission argued that . .
CitedLeivers v Barber Walker and Co Ltd CA 1943
Goddard LJ (dissenting) said that section 2(1)(d) of the 1939 Act changed the former position altogether, leaving the provision for limitation as regards specialties to apply only to deeds and other documents under seal (or to claims other than for . .
CitedCentral Electricity Generating Board v Halifax Corporation HL 1963
Under the 1947 Act, the assets of electricity undertakings were transferred to to electricity boards. Property held by local authorities as authorised undertakers should, on vesting day, vest in the relevant board. A question arose as to whether . .
CitedThe Child Poverty Action Group v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions SC 8-Dec-2010
The Action Group had obtained a declaration that, where an overpayment of benefits had arisen due to a miscalculation by the officers of the Department, any process of recovering the overpayment must be by the Act, and that the Department could not . .
CitedChild Poverty Action Group, Regina (on the Application of) v Secretary Of State for Work and Pensions CA 14-Oct-2009
CPAG appealed against a refusal of a declaration that the respondent could use only the 1992 Act to recover overpayment of benefits where there had been neither misrepresentation nor non-disclosure.
Held: The appeal succeeded, and the court . .
CitedDoherty and others v Birmingham City Council HL 30-Jul-2008
The House was asked ‘whether a local authority can obtain a summary order for possession against an occupier of a site which it owns and has been used for many years as a gipsy and travellers’ caravan site. His licence to occupy the site has come to . .
CitedBarber v London Borough of Croydon CA 11-Feb-2010
The tenant who suffered learning and behavioural difficulties appealed against an order for possession of his council flat. He had become aggressive with the caretaker. The council sought possession, and he defended the claim saying that the council . .

Cited by:

Appeal fromLegal Services Commission v Henthorn CA 30-Nov-2011
The Commission sought to recover what it said were payments made on account to the respondent barrister, but only after many years had passed. The Commission argued that time only began to run once it requested repayment.
Held: The appeal . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Legal Professions, Equity, Limitation, Legal Aid

Updated: 27 May 2022; Ref: scu.428706