AND THE WEST INDIES ASSOCIATED STATES
IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE
Trading as World Wide Watersports
Reynold C. Benjamin
Trading as R.C Benjamin & CO
The Hon. Mde Justice Agnes Actie
Claimant in person
Defendant in person
2020: August 16th
 ACTIE J: This claim is of some vintage and the parties
are both litigants in person. It is the evidence that on 25th
April 1996, the claimant, Dorsett Charles engaged the defendant,’ Reynold
Benjamin of the law firm R. C Benjamin& Co to represent him in a court
claim number 477/1996 against the Government of Grenada to recover damages
for the demolition of his premises and equipment.
 In 1997, Alleyne J gave judgment in favor of Mr. Charles and on appeal
in 1998, the Court of Appeal ordered by consent that judgment be entered in
favor of Mr. Charles in the sum of $1,661,340,00 with costs in the sum of
 It is Mr. Charles’s evidence that to date he has not realized the
fruits of his judgment from the Court of Appeal. However, it is the
evidence and accepted by Mr. Benjamin that the Government paid the firm of
R.C Benjamin & Co the sum of $100,000.00 under the judgment debt.
 Mr. Charles filed a statement of claim on 25th February 2008
and an amended claim on the 17th November 2008 against Reynold
C. Benjamin, Trading as R.C Benjamin & Co for the sum of $100,000.00
less $9000.00 for the legal fees owed to the defendant. Mr. Charles
presented a receipt dated 25th April 1996 representing legal
fees for the sum of $10,000.00 with a deposit payment of $1000.00 and a
balance of $9000.00.
 Mr. Benjamin in his defence and counter claim filed on December 4,2008
states that he represented Mr. Charles at the trial in the High Court and
even before the trial on an interlocutory application for an injunction.
Mr. Benjamin states that he obtained judgment in favor of Mr. Charles at
the first instance and on appeal. Mr Benjamin states that he represented
Mr. Charles on the appeal on the agreement that he would be paid a
contingency fee of 20% of the damages recovered on behalf of Mr. Charles.
Mr. Benjamin states that he is entitled to the sum of $320,000.00 on the
monetary judgment plus 20% of the money value of the 10,000.00 square feet
of land under the judgment. Mr. Benjamin conceded receiving the sum of
$100,000.00 from the government and counterclaims for the remaining sum of
$220,000,00 plus interest under the contingency fee arrangement.
 Mr. Benjamin at trial states that he had discussions with Mr. Charles
about his inability to satisfy fees in the High Court claim in 1996. Mr.
Benjamin outlines the various stages in the litigation including an
application for an injunction followed by representation at the Court of
Appeal for which he said would have increased the $10,000.00 previously
 Both in his evidence and at the trial, Mr. Benjamin intimated that the
contingency fee agreement was initially made orally and was subsequently
endorsed in writing and signed by Mr. Charles on the back of the Court of
Appeal consent order. Mr. Benjamin states that the said order was lost
during hurricane Ivan.
 Mr. Charles admits that he is indebted to Mr. Benjamin in the sum of
$9000.00. Initially he said that he did not have discussions or made any
arrangement for the additional fees. In cross-examination, Mr. Charles
states that he remembered the mention of 20% but he vacillated when asked
about the signing/ endorsement on the Court of Appeal order.
 Having heard the evidence, I accept Mr. Benjamin’s evidence that the
receipt dated 25th April 1996 for legal fees of $10,000.00 was
in relation to the High Court claim. The parties could not have
contemplated an appeal in 1996 when the claim was filed and in any event
the retainer would have expired at the completion of the trial at the High
Court level. Any representation on appeal would have been on a new retainer
 The only issue for determination is whether there was a contingency
fee arrangement and if so whether the said arrangement is enforceable. As
was indicated earlier, there is no evidence of such signed agreement.
 Having reviewed the evidence and heard the parties, I do not accept
Mr. Benjamin’s evidence that such an arrangement was endorsed on the court
of appeal. It is incongruous that an Attorney-at-Law would have made such
an informal arrangement in light of the fact the same client had failed to
complete payment on the High Court fees. Any such arrangement in my view
should have been expressed in writing in advance of the appeal. This would
have given the client an opportunity to solicit independent advice or
engage other counsel if necessary. This is the expected standard practice
in keeping with the professional practice and etiquette of an Attorney- at-
 Secondly, even if there was a contingency fee arrangement, there is a
long established common law rule of professional conduct against
contingency fees that forbids a solicitor from accepting payment for
professional services on behalf of a claimant calculated as a proportion of
the sum recovered from a defendant.
 A contingency fee, that is, an arrangement under which the legal
advisers of a litigant shall be remunerated only in the event of the
litigant succeeding in recovering money or other property in the action,
has always been regarded as illegal under English law on the ground that it
involves maintenance of the action by the legal adviser. Moreover, where,
as is usual in such a case, the remuneration which the adviser is to
receive is to be, or to be measured by, a proportion of the fund or of the
value of the property recovered, the arrangement may fall within that
particular class of maintenance called champerty
In Wallersteiner v Moir (No 2)
Lord Denning, then Master of the Rolls said,
‘It may be worthwhile to indicate briefly the nature of the public policy
question. It can, I think, be summarised in two statements; first in
litigation a professional lawyer’s role is to advise his client with a
clear eye and an unbiased judgment; secondly, a solicitor retained to
conduct litigation is not merely the agent and adviser to his client, but
also an officer of the court, with a duty to the court to ensure that his
client’s case which he must of course present and conduct with the utmost
of care of his client’s interests, is also presented and conducted with
scrupulous fairness and integrity. A barrister has similar obligations. A
legal adviser who acquires a personal financial interest in the outcome of
the litigation may obviously find himself in a situation in which that
interest conflicts with those obligations.’
 Lord Denning MR also stated in Trendtex Trading Corp v Credit Suisse
“when the maintainer seeks to make a profit out of another man’s action by
taking the proceeds of it, or a part of them, for himself. Modern public
policy condemns champerty in a lawyer whenever he seeks to recover not only
his proper costs but also a portion of the damages for himself,
or when he conducts a case on the basis that he is to be paid if he
wins but not if he loses.”
 The English Court of Appeal in a more recent decision in
Morris v Southwark London Borough Council
“where the allegedly champertous agreement was entered into with a person
who was conducting the litigation or providing advocacy services, the
common law of champerty remained substantially unchanged as it was a clear
requirement of public policy that officers of the court should be inhibited
from putting themselves in a position where their own interests could
conflict with their duties to the court;
 Applying the authorities to the facts, firstly I do not accept Mr.
Benjamin’s evidence that the agreement for payment of fees was endorsed on
the Court of Appeal order and even if it was, is unenforceable. Mr.
Benjamin as an Attorney-at-Law should have been well aware of the
unenforceability of a contingency fee agreement. The law against
contingency fees and champerty has its origins as a principle of public
policy designed to protect the purity of justice and the interests of
 I agree with Mr. Benjamin however that he is entitled to costs for
representing Mr. Charles at the Court of Appeal. Mr. Benjamin’s recourse at
the time was to have applied to the court to have his costs taxed, which
was the procedure prior to CPR 2000 when a client challenged costs. Until
then Mr. Benjamin had no call on the monies due to Mr. Charles under the
judgment. In the circumstances, Mr. Benjamin is to reimburse Mr. Charles
the money received from the Government on his behalf.
 It is unfortunate that this matter is only now being determined in an
excess of a decade since the filing of the claim in 2008. The new
dispensation under the CPR 2000 requires an application for an assessment
of reasonable costs taking into consideration the provisions of CPR 65.3.
 In summary and for the foregoing reasons, it is ordered as follows
(i) Judgment is entered in favor of Mr. Dorsette Charles on the claim in
the sum of $91,000.00 with interest at the rate of 6% from the date of
filing the claim until payment in full with Prescribed Costs in the sum of
(ii) The counter claim filed by Mr. Reynold Benjamin for the sum of
$220,000.00 stands dismissed with Prescribed Costs to Mr. Dorsette Charles
in the sum of $30,000.00.
 Mr. Dorsett Charles states that he has not received any compensation
from the Government of Grenada under the consent order for the sum of
$1,661,340,00 with costs of $15,000.00 made by the Court of Appeal in 1998.
The issue was not before the court for determination. It is for Mr. Charles
to make his enquires at the appropriate government department.
High Court Judge
By the Court