SENIOR COURTS COSTS OFFICE
Royal Courts of Justice
Strand, London WC2A 2LL
B e f o r e :
| (1) Mark Green
(2) Mina Mughal
(3) Nadeem Mughal
(4) Theresa Edwards
|- and -
SGI Legal LLP
Robert Marven (instructed by SGI Legal LLP) for the Defendant
Hearing dates: 6 December 2017
Crown Copyright ©
"For the purpose of clarification, we require sight of ALL documents relating to your former client's claim. These include, but are not limited to…"
"We understand that you have been paid in full for the work that you have done for your former client, and therefore he is entitled to take possession of his original papers without being charged..."
"…we are instructed to make an application to court pursuant to Section 68 (1) of the Solicitors Act 1974 for an order to compel you to provide the papers requested".
"… It is necessary for us to view the file in its entirety in order to advise him adequately… You are refusing to provide vital parts of the file to us on the basis that the originals of documents have already been sent to your former client and that the copies of those documents belong to you… We do not dispute the fact that these copies belong to you. However, we are willing to pay reasonable copying charges for those papers in the file that do not "belong" to your former client…".
"The jurisdiction of the High Court to make orders for the delivery by a solicitor of a bill of costs, and for the delivery up of, or otherwise in relation to, any documents in his possession, custody or power, is hereby declared to extend to cases in which no business has been done by him in the High Court".
"The exchange of correspondence between the parties to these proceedings is of its essence not confidential between the two parties. They came into existence because the plaintiffs as clients instructed the defendant as solicitor. As a general principle it seems to me that the client should be entitled to ask for copies of this correspondence, if it has lost the same. It may be that that is also the case if it is unsure if it has a full set of correspondence. It could therefore ask to inspect the correspondence file and take copies of any correspondence which it did not have. However, this right as a client is qualified by the fact that the originals of the correspondence from the solicitor will have been sent to the plaintiffs and the plaintiffs should have retained copies of any replies they gave to the defendants. They are therefore putting the former solicitor to trouble and expense in completing lacunae or possible lacunae in the plaintiffs' own management of its records and affairs. It seems to me therefore that the plaintiffs, if they aver that their own files are believed to be incomplete, are entitled to see and copy these but would have to pay the professional fees of a solicitor to the extent that a solicitor has to spend time checking the files and of clerical assistance to the extent to which that is required in the course of furnishing copies.
…I can well see that that book would remain the property of the solicitor. But that does not preclude the plaintiff whose records are incomplete from asking to have copies of the correspondence with his former solicitor, subject to paying the necessary costs involved. In case there is a dispute about the authenticity of an original letter from the plaintiffs to the defendant the defendant should be entitled to retain such originals; likewise with original copies if they exist although in this day and age they may only exist electronically. But Wheatcroft does not seem to me good authority against the former client having access to copies of the correspondence and I so rule".
"I consider that a solicitor is entitled to charge his normal professional fees for going through the files and selecting what is to be disclosed on foot of this Order. He is also entitled to charge for his secretary's time in photocopying any materials that are sent and for the postage or delivery costs..."
"… the memoranda, notes on scraps of paper, and various other things that may have come into existence, jotted down perhaps in a notebook by the man who carried out the duty of inspecting a hereditament and making up his mind about its valuation…"
"There is no claim against professional men for the documents which they prepare to enable them to carry out the work which they are employed to do."
"the copies made by the solicitor of letters written by him to third parties, and this client's business, were made for his own benefit and protection, and were neither charged for by him, nor paid for by his client. If therefore the client requires copies, she can only have them on the terms of paying for them."