M/S John Smith and Co
1 Main Street,
2nd September 2015
Re: X client
We have received instructions from the above named for whom we understand you previously acted. We also understand that there may be costs outstanding to you.
We would like to obtain the client’s file and in this regard we are enclosing a signed authority. In terms of any undertaking that you might require please note that the Legal Aid Board (“the Board”) is a creature of statute and section 33(7) of the Civil Legal Aid Act 1995 provides as follows:
(7) Subject to subsection (8), any general damages or any money (including costs) or other property recovered by or preserved for a person in receipt of legal aid or advice in a matter, or on his or her behalf, by the Board, whether by order of any court or tribunal or by virtue of any settlement reached to avoid or bring an end to any proceedings or otherwise, shall, in the case of general damages or money be paid by the person or the Board into the Fund and in the case of other property be made by the person or the Board subject to an appropriate charge in favour of the Fund for the purpose of the recovery by the Board of its costs in providing such legal aid or advice.
In the light of this section it is the Board’s view that while its law centres are in a position to give undertakings in relation to prior solicitors’ costs, they cannot give undertakings that prioritise those costs. What they can undertake is to discharge the costs of a prior solicitor on a pro rata basis based on the work done on the file, in other words if the amount available to discharge costs is less than the full amount of those costs, the costs paid out to each legal representative will be apportioned on the basis of the work done (the costs to be taxed for the purpose of apportionment if it is not possible to agree them). We can give such an undertaking in respect of any costs recovered and in respect of any settlement monies / proceeds of sale that are paid to the Board’s account. You might note however that while it is a statutory requirement that any settlement monies be paid to the Board’s account, the Board is dependent on the client endorsing any settlement cheque in the Board’s favour thus enabling the settlement monies to be lodged. Any undertaking given would be qualified by reference to settlement monies actually received into its account.
We would be obliged to hear from you.