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Claimants £3.6m costs appeal blocked by judge over informed consent

Updated: Jun 26, 2021

A High Court judge has said there is ‘no chance’ of a client being able to pursue an appeal against his lawyers for deducting £3.6m in costs from his settlement.

Reality TV producer Neville Hendricks, whose company was the claimant in Mr H TV Ltd v Archerfield Partners LLP, had objected to the London firm taking a share of his total £8.6m settlement from litigation with television channel ITV2.

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Hendricks said he had not given ‘informed consent’ to the costs element but this argument was rejected by Master Victoria McCloud in the senior courts costs office in late 2019.

Applying for permission to appeal that ruling in the High Court, Hendricks’ lawyer Alexander Hutton QC argued that ‘horse trading’ between Archerfield and ITV2 resulted in agreement on the £3.6m costs without the client’s consent. It was submitted that the figures were reached after Archerfield had ‘gone global’ with the amounts being discussed rather than breaking them down into specifics.

But the application was thrown out after 30 minutes of submissions and without Archerfield’s lawyers even having to speak.

In an oral judgment, Mr Justice Martin Spencer said the £3.6m costs had been ‘clearly mentioned’ as being part of the action and Hendricks was aware that ITV2 had agreed to pay this amount as a component part of the settlement offer being discussed.

He said that Master McCloud was entitled to decide that Hendricks gave his informed consent to the solicitor costs and there was ‘every reason’ to find that the parties were discussing the £3.6m figure throughout negotiations. Hendricks, the judge ruled, ‘fully understood’ what was happening and any finding otherwise would have been ‘perverse’.

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