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LEGAL SERVICES COMMISSION v AISHA HENTHORN

For the purposes of limitation periods, the time within which the Legal Services Commission had to seek recovery of overpayments made to a solicitor or counsel started running once costs had been assessed. From that point the commission had a claim to any balance in its favour, but to be entitled to recovery it had to first demand it from the solicitor or counsel concerned.

5 December 2011

The appellant commission appealed against a decision ((2011) EWHC 258 (QB)) that its claim against the respondent (H), a voluntarily disbarred barrister, for recovery of alleged overpayments was made out of time. Most of the alleged overpayments had occurred when the commission’s predecessor, the Legal Aid Board, had made payments on account to H towards her final entitlement to fees pursuant to the Civil Legal Aid (General) Regulations 1989 reg.100(2). The judge found that time ran from the date that the work under the certificate was completed and so the commission’s claim was time-barred. He also found that, even if the proceedings were not defeated on limitation grounds, they were an abuse of process or H had an abuse or public law defence to the claim as the commission had unreasonably delayed in bringing the proceedings and H was disadvantaged by being unable to properly defend the claim as in the meantime she had wound up her practice and disposed of her papers. The commi...

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