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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 71048
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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I didnt withdraw a case properly against a defendant who owes

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I didn't withdraw a case properly against a defendant who owes me money, now her solicitor is demanding pay her fees. The main reason I didn't withdraw it properly was I moved house once I notified the court I wanted to withdraw. I thought it was closed, but was sent subsequent questionnaire and court hearing appointment. I missed both as they were sent to my old address. So the court ordered I should pay costs. The solicitor had sent several letters with the settlement increasing each time, their first offer was £4k and now it's £13k, the original claim was £19k. I don't know what to do next

Thank you for your question. My name is XXXXX XXXXX I will try to help with this.

Are you asking if you can withdraw without paying costs?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Hello Jo,


My question has three parts to it:


1) In general can a claimant withdraw without paying solicitors costs of the defendant or do they usually have to pay?

2) In my particular case, I did not withdraw the case properly as i missed filing a questionnaire and a court hearing which I assume were both to help decide who should pay the costs. I missed it as I moved house and therefore my correspondence address had changed and I did not notify the court as I didn't realise I had to. Am I able to ask for this to be heard again? Do you think there's any point? As perhaps as I withdrew the case that somehow automatically makes me liable for the defendant's costs.

3) The defendant's solicitor has increased their costs from a proposed settlement of £4k which they sent in one letter to now £13k as i did not respond (again due to not receiving the letter)- the orignal claim was £19k. What is my best course of action?


Many thanks


On your specific points

1 If you issue proceedings which are not in the small claims court and you then withdraw before going to court without having agreed with the other side that you are going to withdraw with no order as to costs, then the defendant is entitled to his costs. That is not avoided by just withdrawing. You must agree to withdraw with no costs. I do understand your post about the address but neither the defendant not the court are to blame for that.
XXXXXorder will relate to costs. You can apply to have that set aside and have the costs assessed. It is not the courts or the defendant's fault that you did not advise the court of the change of address though.

3 Yes, you can do that. You may want to negotiate with the solicitor now though. The more correspondence the solicitor sends you chasing in the money the more the costs will escalate. Remember this money is owed to the defendant not the solicitor. It does seem strange that costs have increased from £4000-£13,000 when all they have been doing is chasing for their initial £4000 of costs.

Can I clarify anything for you?

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Hello Jo,

Yes I would like a clarification please.


OK, so I understand that withdrawing means I have to pay costs - unless we agree no order to costs which the defendant would not agree.


What we still don't really understand is what the potential positive outcome of the court order that we missed could have been for us. Right now we are being sent increasingly higher bills, what would the court order have settled initially? Would the court order have been called because we did not respond to the solicitor's first offer of a settlement? If we were lucky enough to get the hearing again how could that help us now?


Would you recommend that we engage our own solicitor now before contacting the defendant's solicitor? And if we contact the defendant's solicitor should we tell them we want to ask for the court order to be thrown out?


Thank you


It is called a "wasted cost order" and it covers the costs sustained by the defendant in defending this case. The only time it is worth an appeal against costs is if they are overstated.

If you used a solicitor earlier you may have avoided this because they would have negotiated a withdrawal with no costs although obviously you would have had your own solicitor's costs to pay.

You are unlikely to get the order dismissed but you can say that you are going to make an application to have the costs assessed
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