Regulation 4(2): by failing without delay to pay monies held or controlled by them in respect of outlays not yet disbursed into client account and failing to treat such monies in all respects as client money;
Regulation 5: by holding monies to which they were beneficially entitled in a client account for longer than three months in respect of outlays already disbursed, or which should have been the subject matter of a bill of costs furnished to the client concerned;
When a solicitor is requested to furnish a detailed bill of costs, the requirements set out in Order 99, Rules of the Superior Courts are relevant. This was confirmed by the High Court in Smyth v. Montgomery.43 Order 99, rule 29(5) requires a bill of costs to adopt the following format: “ Bills of costs are to be prepared with seven separate columns:—
( a ) the first or lefthand column for dates;
( b ) the second for the numbers of the items;
( c ) the third for the particulars of the services charged for;
( d ) the fourth for disbursements;
( e ) the fifth for the Taxing Masters’ deductions from disbursements;
( f ) the sixth for the professional charges;
( g ) the seventh for the Taxing Masters’ deductions from professional charges.” These requirements must be complied with and, in the event that the bill of costs is not within the requisite format, the time allowed for a client to submit the bill for taxation will not begin to run.44
There are important judicial pronouncements regarding the content of bills of costs in contentious matters.45 A solicitor who is required to deliver a detailed bill of costs in a non-contentious matter should heed those decisions regarding the preparation of bills of costs in contentious matters.
Giving an Undertaking
Despite the importance attached to their observation, undertakings are a part of everyday practice which many solicitors still tend either to over look or, at best, pay insufficient attention to.
A solicitor’s undertaking is not just an enforceable agreement, it is something the breach of which can give rise to professional regulatory sanctions. Despite this, many solicitors do not realise how easily they can arise and how failing to monitor undertakings given by others within the firm can give rise to problems for the firm as a whole.
It is always worth bearing in mind just how easily they can arise and that if entered into without appropriate thought being given to their terms that the firm can be exposed to significant consequences.
The Regulations on Undertakings
The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) Handbook defines an undertaking as:
“a statement, given orally or in writing, whether or not it includes the word “undertake” or “undertaking”, made by or on behalf of you or your firm, in the course of practice, or by you outside the course of practice but as a solicitor or REL, to someone who reasonably places reliance on it, that you or your firm will do something or cause something to be done, or refrain from doing something.”
This is a fairly wide ranging definition and encompasses statements which, whilst not intended to create an undertaking, nevertheless do so.
Full text ‘Judgments’ database – Supreme Court judgments since 2001; High Court and Court of Criminal Appeal judgments since 2004.
BAILII (British and Irish Legal Information Institute)
Full text of Supreme Court, High Court and Court of Criminal Appeal judgments since 2000 and selected pre-2000 judgments
IRLII (Irish Legal Information Initiative)
Full text recent Irish cases and selected pre-2000 cases. Indexes to cases.
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