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Elite Law Solicitors incorporates HM Law Costs Draftsmen Ltd and

About Elite Law Solicitors

Elite Law has excellent foundations initially incorporating HM Law Costs Draftsmen, who were one of the longest-established Law Costs Draftsmen firms in the UK and thereafter Fulton Robertson (Created in 2005 following the merger of two long-established Amersham firms, Fulton Robertson Solicitors was acquired by Elite in 2017).

Our goal is to provide the best and most comprehensive “one-stop shop” legal costs service possible.

Our commitment to quality, combined with competitive pricing and the willingness to adopt a flexible approach to individual clients’ changing needs that has allowed us to grow steadily over the years and expand our services to include non-costs related areas including conveyancing, family and wills, trusts and probate.

Proven Expertise

Our involvement in ground-breaking judgements means we are well-placed to advise on complex and unusual cases. Below are some of the cases our staff have dealt with: Click here to read more about each case :

MESSIH v MCMILLAN WILLIAMS & ORS [2010] EWCA Civ 844

The appellant solicitors (M) appealed against a decision that there should be no order in respect of the costs of the proceedings against them following the service by the respondent (R) of a notice of discontinuance.

R issued proceedings against his previous solicitors (L) and M. The proceedings against L were settled on terms that L paid R £21,500 and his costs. L discontinued contribution proceedings which they had served on M. M refused to agree to R discontinuing his claim against them with no order for costs. R served notice of discontinuance and applied for an order under CPR r.38.6(1) that he should not be required to pay M's costs. The judge made the order sought.

The Court held that ff CPR r.38.6 had been intended to create a general discretion as to costs on discontinuance it would have said so. As drafted, the rule made it clear that the defendant started from the position of being entitled to his costs and it was for the claimant to justify the making of some other order. The judge began his analysis by considering whether the settlement of the action against L constituted a change of circumstances which entitled the court to consider how to exercise its discretion under r.38.6(1). If the judge intended to suggest by that that there should be some kind of threshold test based on a change of circumstances then he was wrong to do so. A material change of circumstances might amount to a sufficient justification or reason for departing from the normal rule. It would depend on what the circumstances were. But the correct approach was for the court to consider all the matters relied on as justifying the making of some alternative order for costs and then to decide whether they were sufficient to support such an order.

The avoidance of the costs of a trial was the necessary consequence of any discontinuance and could not, of itself, justify a departure from the normal rule that the discontinuing party paid the other side's costs up to the date of discontinuance. There had to be something more than that to justify that departure. Otherwise the normal rule would be displaced in every case. In the instant case there was nothing more. R was therefore ordered to pay the costs of M up to the date of discontinuance.

TRACY REYNOLDS v STONE ROWE BREWER (A Firm) [2008] EWHC 497 (QB)

The appellant firm of solicitors (S) appealed against a decision of a costs judge that it was bound by an estimate given to the respondent (R). R consulted S, who informed her that the estimated cost of taking the matter forward and through to trial would be in the region of £10,000 to £18,000 plus VAT.

Throughout the course of the litigation, S sent R a number of invoices, and then sent a letter stating that S's estimate had to be revised to £30,000 plus VAT. R had already paid S around £15,000 in line with the original estimate, but further bills were sent to her. R did not pay them, and S informed her that, as the sum of £25,000 remained outstanding, it would not act further.

The question of costs payable by R to S was referred to the costs judge. He went through all the points of dispute and concluded that S should be bound by its estimate of £18,000, to which the 15 per cent "margin" available under established case law would be added, thereby limiting R's liability for costs to £20,700,

S contended that the judge had erred in failing to take into account that the whole point of the revised estimate had been to advise R in advance of the costs being incurred that the original limit of £18,000 was going to be exceeded, and that she had treated the original estimate wrongly as a fixed quotation.

The Court held that there had been no error of law on the part of the judge of which S could complain. He had been entitled to hold that S should be bound by the estimates. The revised estimate had been an attempt to correct an earlier under-estimate and was not attributable to any change in the facts. There had been no significantly unusual developments before the revised estimate such as to explain the difference between the £18,000 estimate and the £30,000 revised estimate.

WILLIS V NICHOLSON [2007] EWCA Civ 199

In a RTA collision case resulting in catastrophic injuries to the claimant a split trial had been ordered.  At that trial the claimant had been found two thirds liable for the accident.  Quantum had yet to be determined. 

An application for a costs capping order was made on the basis of a claimant's estimate that some half a million pounds of base costs had been incurred to about the time of the liability trial, and a further half million or so were to be incurred to the conclusion of the quantum stage. 

The judge hearing the application held that he could not find that there was a real risk of future costs being unreasonable and disproportionate, but he did feel that the defendant merited a measure of protection and ordered that the costs should not exceed the claimant's estimate, effectively capping the costs at the level of the estimate.  The defendant appealed, contending that this approach was irrational. 

The appeal was dismissed however the Court recognised that there was a conflict in the authorities as to the desirability of costs capping.  The high costs of litigation were a matter of concern for the litigation system as a whole.  One element in this was the expectations as to annual income of those who conduct litigation.  It was hoped that the CPR might lead to a change in assessing costs on the basis of market rates, but that has not happened.  To control costs by limiting the way in which professionals conduct litigation is a delicate matter.  For these and other reasons costs capping was not an exercise to be entered upon lightly.

IAN BOTHAM V IMRAN KHAN NIAZI (SUED AS IMRAN KHAN): ALLAN JOSEPH LAMB V IMRAN KHAN NIAZI (SUED AS IMRAN KHAN) [2004] EWHC 2602 (QB)

Judgment in the main action was given in favour of the defendant and in 1996 C was ordered to pay K's costs. In 2003 K served a bill of costs and N252. C submitted that (1) an appropriate sanction for breach of the obligation to commence the detailed assessment (DA) within 3 months was the disallowance of all of K's costs; (2) the delay had caused C prejudice such that there could no longer be a fair DA; (3) the likely outcome of the DA was that K would be found liable to pay a net amount of costs to C; (4) K's bill of costs did not comply with the rules.

The Court held: (1) To impose the sanction of disallowance on the ground of misconduct would be disproportionate. C did not avail themselves of the right to apply for an order requiring K to commence detailed assessment within a specified period. (2) The delay had not prevented a fair DA of K's costs although the process would be more difficult than if it had been carried out on a timely basis. (3) It was impossible to conclude that K's proceedings served no useful purpose because there would be a net balance of costs due to C. (4) K's bill of costs was valid and in compliance with the relevant rules. Even if there was a technical non-compliance it would have reasonable justification and would not be a sound basis for the imposition of sanctions for misconduct.

GERAGHTY & CO (A FIRM) V (1) AWAD AWWAD (2) ERIC GUSTAVSON (CA (Civ Div) (Lord Bingham of Cornhill, Schiemann LJ, May LJ) 25/11/1999

On 20.09.93 Miss Geraghty ('G'), for and on behalf of the firm, entered into an agreement with A that she would charge her full normal rate if he won his libel action, but a reduced rate if he lost.

At the time of that agreement r.8(1) Solicitors Practice Rules ('the Rules') provided that "a solicitor...shall not enter into any arrangement to receive a contingency fee in respect of (proceedings in respect of which he has been retained) save one permitted under statute or by common law".

On appeal the firm contended that: (i) the agreement had not been unlawful at the material time; (ii) the agreement had been subsequently varied to an agreement to charge the lower rate in any event; (iii) A was estopped from taking the point that the firm had agreed a higher figure; and (iv) it was entitled to payment on the basis of a quantum meruit

On appeal it was held that notwithstanding developments in the law subsequent to September 1993, the court was satisfied that the law at the time was that the agreement between the firm and A was contrary to public policy, as reflected in r.8(1) of the Rules. The retainer was therefore unenforceable. There was no evidence to establish that A had ever agreed to vary the original agreement, nor was there any basis for finding that A was estopped from relying upon the illegality of the agreement, or that the consequence of that illegalty should be circumvented by allowing the firm a quantum meruit. There was no merit in H's appeal as to costs.