UK: Richard Slade & Co v Boodia: Court Of Appeal Rules In Favour Of Solicitors' Practice On Billing

Last Updated: 4 December 2018
Article by Benjamin Fowler

Yesterday, the Court of Appeal handed down judgment in Richard Slade & Co v Boodia [2018] EWCA Civ 2667, resolving much of the confusion and concern that had fomented around the now reversed High Court decision and the issue of interim statute bills generally.

Richard Slade & Co acted for the Boodias between 2013 and 2016 under a retainer which included the following payment terms:

"Bills are rendered monthly in arrears. Our bills are detailed bills and are final in respect of the period to which they relate, save that disbursements (costs and expenses which we incur on your behalf) are normally billed separately and later than the bill for our fees in respect of the same period. Please do not assume, therefore, from a bill for our fees which does not refer to any disbursements that no disbursements were incurred during the period. The more usual situation is that disbursements will have been incurred and will be billed separately."

By the time the Boodias terminated the retainer in October 2016, the solicitors had delivered 61 invoices which were divided out between profit costs (totalling £141,287.70 plus VAT) and disbursements (£31,703.80 plus VAT). All amounts were paid save for the last four invoices.

In November 2016, the Boodias sought to have all the bills assessed under s.70 of the 1974 Act. Master James directed that there be a hearing of a preliminary issue, namely whether – by virtue of the bills being final for a period but relating to profit costs only – the bills were capable of being interim statute bills as opposed to account bills culminating in one final statute bill dated 6 October 2016.

Master James concluded that the various bills were account bills; they could not exclude disbursements within the period and add those in later by a separate bill. The solicitors appealed to the High Court, unsuccessfully – Slade J concluded that the Master was bound by statute as explained in authority to conclude that an interim statute bill must contain all costs for a period, including both profit costs and disbursements.

Allowing the appeal, Newey LJ (with whom Coulson and Haddon-Cave LJJ agreed) began by noting that the 1974 Act has its origins in the earlier legislation; the necessary formalities of a statute bill were designed to ensure that a client had sufficient information in order to take an informed decision to tax or not to tax (citing Ward LJ in Ralph Hume Garry v Gwillim [2002] EWCA Civ 1500 at paragraph 57). The solicitor's ability to render bills was dependant on his contract with the client, and modern practice had developed whereby solicitors would make provision for interim billing.

Newey LJ dealt first with the provisions of the 1974 Act, which he concluded were neutral – they gave no indication as to whether profit costs and disbursements had to be billed together.

The Court then addressed the case of Bari v Rosen [2012] 5 Costs LR 851 which had referred to interim statute bills as "complete self-contained bills of costs to date". Newey J concluded that neither Bari v Rosen nor other cases which adopted this terminology were concerned with whether statute bills had to include both costs and disbursements, and to read the statement as requiring this was to attribute the words with a significance they do not have. Rather, the words merely indicate that the bill is not just a payment on account but "is intended to be complete and final as regards its subject matter" (paragraph 31, emphasis added).

Next, the Court addressed practicality and policy, noting that it was unsatisfactory for the solicitor to be unable to issue a statute bill until he had been invoiced for all disbursements incurred during the relevant period and thereby left to the mercy of the cooperation of others. Ultimately, a bill which contained profit costs only (as was common practice in the modern profession) would not necessarily fail the test of containing sufficient information to allow the client to make an informed decision as to whether to tax or not.

Newey LJ also rejected the respondents' fallback position, that the bill should contain all disbursements which had already been billed by the end of the relevant period.

The decision will be a source of relief to solicitors, for whom separate billing of profit costs has become a well established practice. Furthermore, it gives due and proper recognition to the foundation of the common law and statutory principles governing billing arrangements – the parties' agreement. In this case, the retainer clearly spelt out that profit costs and disbursements would be separate, so there was no risk of confusion on the client's part. As the Court of Appeal recognised, solicitors' practice has evolved as automatic billing has improved and solicitors and clients have become more flexible about the payment arrangements which they choose to adopt.

From the client's perspective, it is unlikely that the problems identified by the High Court would occur in practice:

  • If profit costs were being assessed for a period prior to disbursements being billed, it is unlikely that the assessment would come on before other costs, invoices or other relevant evidence was gathered together for the purposes of assessment.
  • The fact that a success fee has not been billed will not undermine the parties' agreement, the client's ability to assess the bill, or the Court's ability to consider the reasonableness of the underlying costs. If success fees had to be included, it would be impossible to render a statute bill until the end of a case. The Court of Appeal decision clarifies that the 1974 Act (which obviously did not contemplate CFAs) did not intend to and should not operate to curtail the parties' autonomy in such a way.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Topics
Related Articles
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions