Unrealistic Cost Estimates Leads to Professional Negligence Claim

A judge ruled that a law firm must pay the price for providing “unrealistic” cost estimates in a professional negligence claim. Senior costs judge Gordon-Saker ruled that Amanda Kenton should pay costs of around £60,000 to Slee Blackwell LLP – compared with a bill sent by the firm of £342,738.60.

The judge also found that the incurred costs were “likely to be unreasonable.” The case, Amanda Kenton v Slee Blackwell LLP, sheds light on the importance of providing clients with accurate cost estimates and transparent cost information, particularly in high-stakes legal disputes.

Have you suffered financial loss at the hands of a professional who has failed to act within professional standards? If you think you have a case, get in touch with our team of professional negligence lawyers. We can assist you to understand the merits of your claim and advise you on the best way to obtain fair compensation. Our lawyers specialise in litigation and alternative dispute resolution. We will guide you through any stage in your litigation or settlement process. Whether you are a litigant in person seeking legal advice or you have instructed solicitors and are seeking a second opinion on strategy.

Amanda Kenton v Slee Blackwell LLP

Amanda Kenton had engaged Slee Blackwell LLP to represent her in a professional negligence claim against another law firm, identified only as ‘ABC.’ The legal battle revolved around alleged professional negligence, and the damages and costs were significant, with claims exceeding £300,000.

Slee Blackwell initially provided Kenton with an estimate for the legal costs, but Senior Costs Judge Gordon-Saker in the case found that this estimate was “hopelessly unrealistic.” While Slee Blackwell LLP’s bill amounted to £342,738.60, the judge determined that Kenton should be required to pay only £40,000 plus VAT, a mere fraction of the original bill.

Unrealistic Estimates and the Cost Discrepancy

The judge further pointed out that, given the nature of the professional negligence claim and the potential damages at stake, the estimate should have been significantly higher. A realistic estimate for profit costs, according to the judge’s assessment, would have been around £50,000 for settlement before proceedings and at least £150,000 for the conclusion of a trial. Slee Blackwell LLP’s estimate fell far short of these figures.

What makes this case particularly noteworthy is the impact of the inaccurate estimate on Amanda Kenton. Kenton relied on this estimate when entering into a conditional fee agreement with Slee Blackwell LLP. This decision meant that she lost the opportunity to pursue a different course of action, assuming that the estimate provided was reasonably accurate.

Lack of Proper Cost Information

The judge also noted that Kenton had not been provided with proper cost information by the law firm and was only given an updated estimate during the mediation process. Additionally, the law firm failed to adequately explain the substantial difference between the original estimate and the actual costs incurred during the case.

Consequence of the Court’s Decision

The judge’s ruling, which held Slee Blackwell LLP accountable for the “unrealistic” estimate and found in favour of Amanda Kenton, has raised significant questions within the legal profession. It underscores the need for law firms to be transparent and accurate when estimating costs, particularly in cases with substantial potential liabilities. The judgment demonstrates the consequences that can arise when clients are given unrealistic estimates, which can have far-reaching effects on their legal strategies and decisions.

Legal Negligence Claims

For law firms, it is essential to ensure that cost estimates are based on a realistic assessment of the work required, rather than offering figures that may seem appealing but are ultimately unsustainable. Clients rely on these estimates to make informed decisions about their legal representation and funding arrangements.

The lesson to be learned from this case is clear: providing realistic, transparent, and accurate cost estimates is not only a professional responsibility but also a crucial aspect of maintaining trust and integrity in the legal profession. Failure to do so can result in costly disputes and, as seen in Amanda Kenton v Slee Blackwell LLP, legal consequences that impact the bottom line of both the law firm and its clients.

Legal practitioners should take this case as a reminder to uphold the highest standards of transparency and integrity when dealing with cost estimates and financial matters in the legal arena. We at LEXLAW have experience in disputes against Legal Practitioners who do not hold these high levels of integrity for their clients. We can offer you advice and assistance of how to hold them accountable by bringing claims of professional negligence against them.

In conclusion, the Amanda Kenton v Slee Blackwell LLP case has sparked a significant discussion within the legal community about the importance of accurate cost estimates. It serves as a reminder that law firms must uphold their professional responsibilities when estimating the costs of their services, and clients should be proactive in seeking transparency and clarity when making financial decisions regarding their legal cases. This case emphasises the significance of trust, transparency, and communication in the client-lawyer relationship.

Book an initial consultation with our Professional Negligence Lawyers

If you have a claim against a professional and want expert legal advice, get in touch so we can assess the legal merit of your case. We can often take on such claims on a no win no fee basis (such as a CFA or DBA) once we have discussed the claim with you and then assessed and advised you on the merits of the proposed professional negligence action.

Our expert legal team of leading Professional Negligence Solicitors & Barristers can provide urgent help, advice or representation to you. Just call our Professional Negligence Lawyers on 02071830529 or email us now.

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