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Woods v Chaleff, Supreme Court SCCO

7 June 2002
The issues

Costs – Conditional Fee Agreements – Enforceability

The facts

This was a libel action. Those acting for the Claimant were acting under a CFA. The Defendant/paying party argued that the CFA was unenforceable because it breached the Conditional Fee Agreement Regulations 1995 which was the relevant provision at the time. The Claimant/receiving party argued that technical breaches should not render the agreements unenforceable. Specifically the agreement failed to state the amount payable or the method used to calculate that amount. It did not state whether or not the amount payable was limited by reference to the amount of damages recoverable nor did it state that the matters listed in the regulations had been explained to the client.

The decision

1. If a statutory instrument laid down expressed provisions to be complied with, failure to comply made the agreement unenforceable.

2. No sums would be payable in respect of the Solicitors’ Bill of Costs.

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