Firm sues solicitors over unpaid invoices

by Sarah Limbrick

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15 Nov 2011

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CHARTERED accountants Ballamy Woodhouse, which specialise in forensic work, is suing its instructing solicitors for more than £276,000.

The firm claims that, despite spending hours preparing to act as an expert witness in litigation, its invoices have not been paid.

And after the case was finished, Ballamy Woodhouse was told its fees might not be covered by the after-the-event insurance designed to meet its fees, it is alleged.

Now Ballamy Woodhouse is suing solicitor Alex Bevan, who ran Bevans Solicitors and its successors Bevans Bray Walker, for payment of fees of £251,365.19 plus interest of £24.736.78.

The firm had been called in to prepare an expert report in a dispute between Gary Fearns, trading as Autopaint International and Anglo-Dutch Paint & Chemical Co, De Beer Lakfabrieken and others for infringement of trademark and copyright in 2006.

Alex Bevan asked the accountancy firm to carry out preliminary work in preparing an expert's report, but said funding was not yet in place. However, if Ballamy Woodhouse waited for formal instructions, the report would be too late to meet the court timetable, according to a High Court claim.

In December 2006, the firm was told that Bevans was trying to arrange after-the-event insurance to cover the costs and later Ballamy Woodhouse was told that effective insurance cover had been arranged, it is alleged.

Ballamy Woodhouse finalised a joint experts' report with De Beer's accountancy expert KPMG in January 2007 and Bevans confirmed its fees would only be paid when the case was over, the claim says.

In May 2007, the High Court ordered De Beer to pay Autopaint £438,569 for trademark infringement, passing off and breach of contract, but De Beer's counterclaim was successful and Autopaint was ordered to pay De Beer €594,696.

After a series of letters demanding payment of its invoices, Ballamy Woodhouse was told in October 2010 by Alex Bevan that recovering its fees from the insurer might not be possible, as the outcome of the claim did not necessarily trigger liability under the policy, the claim states.

Ballamy Woodhouse accuses Bevan and Bevans Bray Walker of breach of instructions in failing to pay its fees, or claims damages for misrepresentation and breach of collateral warranty.

The claim was issued by Mark Spragg of Keystone Law.

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