STOP PRESS: RECOVERY OF SUCCESS FEES IN INHERITANCE CLAIMS
By Angelo Micciche TEP, CTAPS, Solicitor with Hine Downing
Using solicitors to enforce your rights can be very difficult to finance, particularly after the erosion- and in most cases, removal- of legal aid over the past 20 years.
It is therefore of some comfort for those seeking Inheritance Claims that the Court of Appeal has in October 2021 allowed the recovery of part of a success fee uplift on a conditional fee agreement, or CFA or more commonly known as a “no-win-no-fee agreement”.
Solicitors would normally only agree to do a case on a conditional fee agreement if the case was sufficiently strong, and the estate of a sufficient size, to bear the payment of total sum of solicitors’ fees (“costs”) upon a successful claim, plus a percentage uplift of up to 100% on such costs to be met by the client. This is a commercial reward for the solicitor for taking the case on without seeking payment throughout the case.
The Court of Appeal has held that for a successful claimant in an inheritance claim to foot the success fee uplift themselves may impact upon their day-to-day needs. In the case of Hirachand v. Hirachand, the Court of Appeal upheld the recovery from the estate of what amounted to a 25% uplift, for a sum of £16,750, being part of a total award of £138,918 based upon the needs of the claimant. The solicitors of the claimant had sought, as part of the conditional fee agreement, a 72% uplift of their costs from their client, which in reality would have reduced the claimant’s award to the detriment to the award’s ability to address the claimant’s day-to-day needs.
The decision to allow part of the success fee to be met as part of the recovery from the losing defendant in an inheritance claim will make it easier for claimants to fund the legal fees for inheritance claims where that is the only way in which the claimant would have been able to afford bringing a claim with solicitors. This would only happen if the Court decides that it would be necessary, to the extent it may ensure that reasonable provision is made for the claimant.
If you would like to discuss an inheritance claim, please call Angelo Micciche on 01326 316655.