PROVING THINGS 131: IN THE ABSENCE OF EVIDENCE THE COURT SHOULD NOT DRAW INFERENCES IN SOLICITOR’S COSTS CASE
The judgment in Gill v Heer Manak Solicitors  EWHC 2881 (QB) is one of those cases that will get costs lawyers excited. However it is not so much a case about costs as a case about evidence, or the absence of it.
“… in circumstances where no relevant factual evidence was filed by the firm, I cannot accept that the master was entitled to make the assumptions set out in paragraphs 29 to 31”
The defendant firm of solicitors acted for the claimant in litigation. Part way through that litigation, four months before the trial date, they ceased trading as they could not find indemnity insurance. They informed the claimant of this, giving him no notice, and his case was transferred elsewhere (without his consent). More than three years after it ceased trading the solicitors then made a claim against the claimant for costs that had not been paid on account.
THE ISSUE: DID THE SOLICITORS HAVE A “GOOD REASON” FOR TERMINATING THE RETAINER
The appeal centered on one issue: did the solicitors have a “good reason” for terminating the retainer. If they did they could bring the action for additional fees. If they did not then they could not.
THE HEARING BEFORE THE MASTER
The Master found that the solicitors had a good reason for terminating the retainer when they did.