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 claimed. He engaged Thomas Watts and Co as his solicitors but was not asked to and did not agree any particular rate of remuneration. The solicitors are entitled to reasonable and fair remuneration for the work they have done. It is too late for [the client] to apply with any prospect of success for the bills now to be submitted for taxation. .
But the position of the plaintiff firm is not, in my judgment, one in which they can simply ask the court, without any further investigation, to underwrite the amount they have chosen to claim in their three invoices. It may be that the amounts are reasonable. It may be that in one, or other, or several respects, the amounts are inflated . .
In my judgment, in a case such as this, where solicitors are applying for payment of their bill, the situation is analogous to one in which a plaintiff is applying for an unquantified sum which has to be quantified by a judicial process before judgment can be awarded for the appropriate amount.’
Sir Richard Scott V-C, Schiemann LJ
[1998] EWCA Civ 468, [1998] 2 Costs LR 59
England and Wales
See AlsoThomas Watts and Co (Suing As a Firm) v Smith CA 14-Oct-1996
Adjourned application for leave to appeal against order for security for costs of appeal. . .

Cited by:
ApprovedO Palomo Sa v Turner and Co; Turner and Co v O Palomo Sa CA 28-Jul-1999
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 . .
CitedTruex 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 . .
ApprovedJoseph, Regina (on the Application Of) v Manches and Co CA 29-Jan-2002
. .

These lists may be incomplete.
Updated: 09 July 2021; Ref: scu.143946