Wakefield v Duckworth [1915] 1 KB 218

Personal liability of solicitor ordering photographs for defence of client


Mr Wakefield was a professional photographer. Mr Duckworth, a solicitor, attended his studio to purchase photographs for use in defending his client on manslaughter charges. Mr Wakefield knew the photographs were required for use in the litigation, and Mr Duckworth requested as low a price as possible for the photographs because his client was not a wealthy man. Mr Wakefield sought to recover the cost of the photographs from the solicitor.


Mr Wakefield argued that where a solicitor takes credit in a cash transaction, he renders himself personally liable. He argued there was no evidence that Mr Duckworth had entered the contract on behalf of his client and as photographs were not usually required in litigation, the solicitor should incur personal liability for unusual expenses. Mr Duckworth argues he was acting as agent in the transaction and his client was the principal. He argued the transaction was not a cash transaction because the solicitor could not guarantee his client’s credit. The photographer knew the solicitor was acting on behalf of a client and, as such, any remedy should be pursued against the principal and not the agent.


Mr Wakefield was unsuccessful in his claim. The solicitor was acting on behalf of his client and the photographer knew he was therefore an agent of his client, the principal. Mr Wakefield, therefore, had recourse only against the principal. The transaction did not amount to a cash transaction and there was no custom under which a solicitor should incur personal liabilities in this context.