Cox v Woodlands Manor Care Home Ltd  unreported
Regulation 7 provides that the client be provided with a written notice of his right to cancel the contract within a 7 day ‘cooling off’ period. Such notice must be given at the time the contract is entered into.
Background to the case
The Appellant was injured during the course of her employment. The injuries were such that the Appellant was attended in her own home by Wards Solicitors and was duly signed up to a Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA). The solicitor did not provide her with a written notice of her right to cancel the contract.
BTE insurance was available to the Appellant, however, she chose to instruct a non-panel solicitor. The insurer confirmed that Wards were not authorised to act for the Appellant under the provisions of the BTE insurance.
Both the Appellant and her Solicitor submitted evidence confirming that their intention was for the CFA only to come into effect once the relevant funding enquiries had been completed and no alternative funding was found to be available. As such, their point was that the 2008 Regulations did not actually apply in this case as the ‘contract’ did not commence until the point at which the BTE insurer confirmed Wards were not authorised to act.
On 27 January 2015 the Court of Appeal handed down judgment (approved judgment is awaited) confirming the CFA in this matter was subject to the Cancellation of Contracts made in the Consumer’s Home or Workplace etc. Regulations 2008 and was unenforceable. Although this case wasn’t entirely ‘cut and dry’ it is a stark reminder of the need to comply. Costs were assessed at nil with the facts of the case unable to support any other conclusion.
The 2008 regulations are superseded by the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013 which came into force on 13 June 2014. It is anticipated that this decision will affect a significant number of CFAs entered into between 1 October 2008 and 12 June 2014.
Solicitors would be best advised to review their retainers in respect of this issue to consider whether any action is required, and to ensure that all future contracts comply with the latest regulations.