War veteran's battle over fees

A D-DAY veteran is fighting the legal profession's “privileged position” on fees by taking a case to the European Court of Human Rights.

Bill Shaw, 74, is striking a blow for litigants-in-person, whom he says are grossly discriminated against when claiming costs.

He is taking his fight to Europe under Article 6 of the Convention on Human Rights, which says all individuals should have equal access to justice.

Shaw, who has the backing of Norfolk Euro MP Sir Ralph Howell, is questioning why solicitors can charge costs of u170 an hour while, as a litigant-in-person, he is restricted to u8.15.

With telephone calls he can charge just 81p for six minutes – 5p more than the cost on his itemised bill – while solicitors can charge u15.

“It's time the whole thing was put on a more even footing,” he says.

Shaw, who says his home and even his war pension are under threat after his battle with London solicitors Rosling King, wants cost claims for litigants-in-person capped at around two-thirds of lawyers' fees.

Rosling King is suing Shaw for a u15,000 costs bill, but the Arnhem veteran is counter-suing for the loss of 252,000 Danish Kroner (u28,000).

Shaw won a summary judgment on the case but lost the subsequent appeal for which he has been lumbered with a “hefty” bill for costs.

The case is now set to proceed to a full court hearing but even if Shaw wins, the costs he can claim will be dwarfed by the bills he has already received from the solicitors.