Solicitor/own client claims entity Check My Legal Fees (CMLF) has won its case against Slater & Gordon, opening the door to millions of former personal injury firm clients to recover deductions.
Mr Justice Ritchie ruled that Slater & Gordon had to make significant disclosures to CMLF, including of the phone calls in which it signed up clients to check whether they gave informed consent. The Justice said: “One only has to listen to the audio recording of the sign-up process for Mr Turnbull to feel uncomfortable about lack of informed consent for the [unrecovered costs] clauses in the CFA.”
Mr Justice Ritchie was ruling on appeals against two decisions made by Costs Judge Rowley.In Edwards, a group of 144 claimants challenges the process S&G used to sign them up and whether the clients gave informed consent; Raubenheimer, involving 140 claimants, concerns the allegation that S&G received a secret commission from an after-the-event (ATE) insurer.
Slater & Gordon lost the first appeal with the judge ruling the costs judge had the power to order disclosure in a part 8 claim during a solicitor/own clients assessment.
Further to the Raubenheimer appeal, CMLF said they believed secret commissions had been widespread in the market since 2013. This could lead to up to 1.4 million former clients bringing claims against their solicitors.