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Begum v Klarit, Court of Appeal, 15 February 2005

21 March 2005
The issues

Costs – Appropriate Level Of Success Fee In Case Of “Stone-Cold Certainty – Conditional Fee Agreement

The facts

The Appellant brought an appeal. That appeal was rejected by the Court of Appeal In rejecting it the Court of Appeal noted that “anybody assessing in a careful and thoughtful manner the prospects of the appeal from the point of view from the Respondents would have been likely to appreciate……..that they were pretty close to a stone cold certainty of successfully resisting the appeal”. The Court of Appeal went on to make a summary assessment of Costs. The solicitors for the successful Respondent had entered into an agreement with Counsel whereby Counsel was entitled to a success fee of 100%. They had agreed with their own client a success fee of 70%.

The decision

Success fees at that level discredited and devalued the whole arrangements for Conditional Fee Agreements. There was only a small amount of risk in this litigation and that risk would have been provided for properly by a success fee of 15%. The Success fee of both Counsel and solicitors would be reduced to 15% accordingly and the Court of Appeal expressed the hope that this was the last occasion on which it would have to express itself so strongly about the level of success fees proffered for approval.

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