Supreme Court rules Gavin Edmonson Solicitors’ fees should be paid after it had already filed claims
Claimant lawyers have today won a long-running, Supreme Court battle over third-party capture of claims.
In Edmonson v Haven, Haven Insurance already had a favourable verdict, but that was overturned in the Court of Appeal.
It involves six claims for compensation after road traffic accidents. All clients had entered into an agreement with Gavin Edmonson Solicitors regarding the fee. The solicitors then submitted the claims via the online claims portal.
But, after the claims were submitted, Haven Insurance then approached the clients and made an offer to settle out of court.
These offers were accepted, and the claimants cancelled their contractual fee agreement (CFA), meaning the solicitors lost out on approximately £12,500.
The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal from Haven and said Edmonson was entitled to the money as the clients owed a contractual duty to pay the solicitors’ charges.
Lord Briggs said the RTA protocol, through which the claims went, was designed to provide security for the solicitor’s charges.
He said:“Part of the balance struck by the RTA Protocol is its voluntary nature. Its voluntary use stems from a perception by all stakeholders that its use is better for them than having every modest case go to court. If the court were to step in to grant coercive remedies to those affected by its misuse by others, that balance would probably be undermined.’
Joe O’Connell, claims director for Haven, said the case was only about the solicitors’ costs.
He said: “The court did not criticise Haven in any way and there has never been any suggestion that the underlying claimants received any less than the compensation to which they were entitled.”
“In fact, Haven believes that they received more than they would have received had they settled their claims through solicitors. Haven has always acted fairly towards claimants and will continue to do so. We believe that it is in claimants’ interests to settle directly with us and we will continue to provide an excellent service to those who choose to do so.”
“While we are naturally very disappointed by the decision, this case was not about whether insurers should settle directly with claimants. It was only about the claimants’ solicitors’ costs and it turned on a technical analysis of their retainers. The Court did not criticise Haven in any way and there has never been any suggestion that the underlying claimants received any less than the compensation to which they were entitled. In fact, Haven believes that they received more than they would have received had they settled their claims through solicitors.”