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Devonshires Solicitors LLP v Elbishlawi and Lam Developments Ltd [2021] EWHC 173 (Comm) - Harry Peto, Temple Garden Chambers

31/01/21. This was an application for summary judgment in respect of a claim for fees against the Defendants, who were former clients of the Claimant. The First Defendant was the beneficial owner of the Second Defendant property investment company.

The Claimants sought recovery of six invoices in respect of instructions to obtain planning consent, instructions in relation to a possible sale of property, and instructions to resist an application in Guernsey by the Second Defendant’s advisers to place the Second Defendant into administration for non-payment of fees.

The Application

First, the Judge found against the Defendants on their argument that no invoices were payable without the Claimant providing details of work done, payments received and made and copies of time records. No term requiring this was found in the Letters of Engagement.

A number of other matters were raised in the Defence which I will not set out here but which were all found to be without any prospect of success.

A ground of challenge not found in the Defence but raised at the hearing was that the invoices were not statute bills, as insufficient detail had been supplied; that, in any event, the Defendants were entitled to seek a common law assessment of all the invoices; and that one of the invoices covered a period in which the Claimant did not exist (but its predecessor practice did).

The Defendant submitted that...

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