Assignment of CFA from one firm to another

Jones v Spire Healthcare 2015 (unreported) Liverpool County Court Case No: A13YJ811 11 September 2015

The need for a transfer of a CFA in this case from law firm Barnetts to SGI Legal came about by the insolvency of the former firm.

DJ Jenkinson held that the Claimant was entitled to recover the costs incurred by Barnetts, but not those later incurred by SGI Legal, who had bought Barnetts PI caseload when the firm went into administration

The question for the court was whether it was possible to assign a CFA with the effect that the new firm (SGI) carried on under the original (pre-LASPO) CFA of Barnetts.

The court held that there was no assignment mainly on the basis that there was no relationship of personal confidence between the client and a particular fee earner as had been present in the case of Jenkins v Young Bros Transport Limited [2006] 1 WLR 3189 where it was held that exceptionally in those circumstances it was possible to assign a CFA.

The result in the present case was catastrophic – the new firm is now not able to act under the original pre-LASPO CFA at all and indeed the Judge found that a new CFA had in fact been entered into post-LASPO on the exact terms as the old one.

This meant that the post-LASPO rules applied to the new CFA with which it comprehensively failed to comply. As a result, it was found that there was no valid retainer between the client and SGI Legal and so no costs could be claimed in respect of the work done by that firm.