A solicitor’s bill could only be taxed within one year of its delivery, but the common law right to challenge a bill on the grounds that the amount charged was unreasonable could continue after that time limit. The common law right to object to paying more than was reasonable was not displaced by the Act, and could allow a court to tax a bill outside the one year limit.
Evans LJ said: ‘the position apart from the Act is broadly as follows. If the solicitor wishes to be paid and is not in funds he will need to sue and prove that his charges were either expressly agreed or are reasonable charges. If he is in funds and purports to deduct the amount of his bill but the client challenges the deduction, the solicitor will still need to prove that the charges were either expressly agreed or were reasonable charges. The question is whether the client loses these rights to challenge the amount of the bill after the period for taxation has passed . . a client who is sued by his solicitor for the amount of his charges is entitled to challenge the reasonableness of the sum claimed, notwithstanding that the period during which he may apply for an order for taxation under what is now s. 70 of the 1974 Act has expired. .
Nor do we consider that the solicitor is disadvantaged by the possibility that the client is entitled to have the reasonableness of the charges assessed by the court after the statutory periods for taxation have expired. He can himself claim an order for taxation under s. 70(2), without any time limit, and obtain a form of summary judgment when the taxation certificate is issued . .
We do not see any difficulty in holding that the solicitor’s claim is for a reasonable sum, whether by statute or at common law, and not for a liquidated sum. Again in accordance with general principles, the burden of proving that the sum is reasonable rests upon him. This is supported, if authority is needed, by the judgments in Re Park [Re Park, Cole v. Park (1889) 41 Ch D 326] and Jones and Son v. Whitehouse [ 2 KB 61] . . ‘
Times 30-Aug-1999, Gazette 08-Sep-1999,  EWCA Civ 2007,  1 WLR 37
England and Wales
Approved – Thomas Watts and Co (a Firm) v Smith CA 16-Mar-1998
The court considered the status of an untaxed solicitor’s bill of costs against a client for whom he had acted in defamation proceedings. Sir Richard Scott V-C said: ‘It is a fact that [the client] never entered into any contract to pay the sums as . .
Cited – Truex v Toll ChD 6-Mar-2009
The bankrupt appealed against an order in bankruptcy made against her on application by her former solicitors in respect of their unpaid costs. The bankrupt said that since the bill was yet untaxed, it might be altered and could not base a statutory . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.
Legal Professions, Contract
Updated: 19 May 2022; Ref: scu.84402