A solicitor is entitled to refuse to do further work for a client until outstanding bills are settled and funds placed on account ( for anticipated costs not yet incurred) the Court of Appeal recently ruled . By doing so, the solicitor was merely suspending, not terminating the retainer and the client was liable to pay for the work done. The client in this case was unhappy with the size of the bill as it had exceeded initial estimates. The reason for the higher bill was that the matter had got more complicated, there being protracted possession proceedings.
All solicitors will have written terms of business which should set out on what basis the parties can terminate the agreement.
Inevitably there will be instances where costs are more than initially anticipated, and litigation ( in particular possession proceedings) are a minefield full of potential unwelcome developments that push your costs up. But if you are not happy with the costs and handling of the case there are channels available to resolve the matter ( for example the firm’s internal complaints procedure, the Legal Ombudsman and the Solicitors Regulation Authority amongst others).
But if your solicitors say no more work until you pay up ignore the message at your peril or you could find yourself liable for fees on the basis that you terminated the agreement.