WHAT THE COURT CONSIDERS IN ASSESSING PAYMENT DUE TO A LEGAL PRACTITIONER FOR SERVICES RENDERED IN QUANTUM MERUIT633 views
OSINAIKE v. CORONATION MERCHANT BANK LTD (2021) LPELR-53591(CA)
JUDGMENT DATE: 5TH MARCH, 2021
PRACTICE AREA: CONTRACT
LEAD JUDGMENT: BITRUS GYARAZAMA SANGA, J.C.A.
SUMMARY OF JUDGMENT:
This appeal borders on Recovery of Professional Fees.
Appellant as Claimant via a writ of summons and statement of claim claimed against the Respondent as Defendant at the High Court the following:
1. The sum of N41,427,000.00 being professional fees, cost and expenses due to the Claimant from the Defendant on a quantum meruit basis for the services rendered by the Claimant as Legal Practitioner for the Defendant in respect of Suit No: ID/1116/2010 which was instituted by the Claimant for the recovery of the debt owed by the Defendant by SKIV Concepts Nigeria Ltd.
2. The sum of N2,491,800.00 being professional fees, cost and expenses due to the claimant from the Defendant on a quantum meruit basis for the services rendered by the Claimant as Legal Practitioner for the Defendant for the defence of the action instituted as Suit No: LD/ 1693/2011.
He also claimed interest on the said sum.
Upon being served with the originated processes, Defendant filed its Statement of Defence in which a Counter Claim is incorporated. The Defendant pleaded in its defence that the Claimant did not recover any sum at all as it claimed and is not entitled to any sum whatsoever. In its counterclaim, Defendant claimed against the Claimant as follows:
1. An account of the N500,000.00 advanced by the Defendant/Counter Claimant to the Claimant/Defendant to the counterclaim as filing fees for the litigation initiated and prosecuted on its behalf by the Claimant/Defendant to the counterclaim duly verified on oath.
2. An order directing the Claimant/Defendant to the counterclaim to pay to the Defendant/Counter Claimant such portion of the said sum of N500,000.00 as may be found not to have been exhausted on meeting out-of-packet expenses after the taking of the account.
3. The cost of action.
The matter went into full trial and the High Court awarded the sum of N750,000 (Seven Hundred and Fifty Thousand naira) being professional fees, cost and expenses due to the Claimant from the Defendant on a quantum meruit basis for the services rendered by the Claimant as Legal Practitioner for the Defendant for the defence of the action constituted as Suit No: LD/1693/2011.
Aggrieved by the decision of the Court Claimant now Appellant filed an appeal to the Court of Appeal.
ISSUES FOR DETERMINATION
The Court determined the appeal on the following issues:
1. Whether the learned trial Judge was right when he held that the Appellant’s quantum meruit claim in the sum of N41,427,000.00 for the recovery services rendered by him to the Respondent in respect of Suit No: ID/1116/2010 cannot be maintained.
2. Whether the Appellant as Legal Practitioner acting for the Respondent in Suit No: LD/1693/2010 is entitled to claim for the administrative charges and costs incurred by him while acting as Legal Practitioner in the suit as distinct and separate from the professional fees charged by him for the legal services rendered in defence of the suit.
3. Whether the learned trial Judge was right when he awarded the sum of N750,000.00 to the Appellant in respect of his claim for services rendered to the Respondent in respect of Suit No: LD/1693/2010 on the basis of the notion of restutio ad integrum.
4. Whether the learned trial Judge was right when he refused the Appellant’s claim for pre-judgment interest on the ground that the Appellant did not lead evidence to support the claim.
In conclusion, the Court allowed the appeal, the judgment of the High Court was set aside and the Appellant’s claims as Claimant at the trial Court were granted.
- LEGAL PRACTITIONER- RECOVERY OF CHARGES BY LEGAL PRACTITIONERS: What the Court considers in assessing payment due to a legal practitioner for services rendered in a quantum meruit claim
- LEGAL PRACTITIONER- RECOVERY OF CHARGES BY LEGAL PRACTITIONERS: Whether a legal practitioner whose service was engaged on a contingency remuneration basis is entitled to recover his professional fees on a quantum meruit basis where the agreement is terminated by the client before completion
- LEGAL PRACTITIONER- RECOVERY OF CHARGES BY LEGAL PRACTITIONERS: Guiding principles in a quantum meruit claim; whether a legal practitioner can recover administrative charge/cost separate from professional fees in the same action
- CONTRACT- QUANTUM MERUIT: Meaning and categories of quantum meruit
WHAT OUR CLIENTS ARE SAYING…
“Lawpavilion prime is really a good innovation from the LawPavilion team, it provides most cases i search for very fast. I love the fact that there’s a Whatsapp version at least it is affordable especially for young lawyers.“