Lawyers’ bill was six times what client won

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A plumber who sued his former employers walked away with a payout that was just a SIXTH of what his lawyers earned from the case.

Adrian Simcoe, of Armley, Leeds, won an out-of-court settlement of £12,750 from bosses at Jacuzzi UK after he suffered nerve damage to his hand.

But this week it emerged that Irwin Mitchell solicitors had charged £74,000 for acting on his behalf.

The disparity was revealed as the case went before London’s Civil Appeal Court and the country’s most senior civil law judge, Master of the Rolls Lord Neuberger.

He said: “Something is out of kilter in at least some parts of the civil justice system.”

Claimant Mr Simcoe, 35, was also critical, saying said he was “surprised” and branded lawyers “greedy”.

He said: “I had no idea.

“It seems very greedy to me – I’m the one who was left with permanent damage to my hand.”

Mr Simcoe began legal action in 2007 after claiming the repetitive nature of his work building shower cubicles left him with damage to his right hand.

He engaged Irwin Mitchell on a ‘no-win no fee basis’, with the costs being underwritten by an insurance policy he was asked to take out.

An out-of-court compromise was finally reached in 2010, by which time the law firm had clocked up costs of £74,000 – including a 60 per cent ‘win fee’.

The Bradford-based Jacuzzi company agreed to pay Mr Simcoe’s settlement and his costs.

This week, however, Irwin Mitchell went back to court to claim interest on the monies agreed in the case.

The court upheld their argument, despite Lord Neuberger’s criticism.

Today, a spokesman for Irwin Mitchell said costs were driven up by “unnecessary delays” outside of its control.

Costs also escalated due to the complex nature of the case, which relied heavily on medical experts, he said.

A spokesman added: “If they [the defendants] had settled when we first offered them the chance, the fees would have been less than the amount received by the claimant.”