Lords uphold decision in Thai Trading

The House of Lords has ended the confusion over the legality of contingency fee agreements by refusing leave to appeal in a landmark Court of Appeal judgment.

The decision marks a victory for Caversham-based Taylors in Thai Trading, which has been debated in Parliament. Its effects can be seen in the Access to Justice Bill which substantially codifies the decision.

The case involved solicitor Wilfrid Taylor, acting for his wife, who would only be paid if she won. As reported in The Lawyer (26 May), the Appeal Court held it lawful for solicitors to take contingency fee-based cases provided they do not charge an uplift fee.

Such arrangements were previously banned unless specifically allowed under statute. The decision in Thai Trading was questioned in Hughes v Kingston CC when the Divisional Court apparently accepted it had been decided in error.

But as Taylor's barrister, Jason Williams of 3 Dr Johnson's Buildings, says, this “victory” ends the confusion.