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Welcome to JA.
I am sorry to hear about your situation.
Unless there is a term within the contract between you and your solicitor, which stops you from having a say on the disbursements incurred in this manner, then i suggest you contest the 50% they seek from you. This is because the fee should be something you had to agree too before the expert is instructed given you will be personally liable for it.
Do you understand what i have stated so far? if yes i will proceed to the next step.
In that case i suggest you remind them of the time you requested info about the costs and your absence of any agreement to proceed with the proposed expert. If you have any evidence such as emails, text, etc, please send it to them. Hopefully when they see that they overstepped the mark they will cease from pursuing you for the fee.
I hope i have clarified the position, if not please let me know.
Thanks and stay safe.