Solicitor Costs: Acknowledgements

Acknowledgments are one of the sneakiest and most annoying stealth methods of increasing solicitor costs that we have come across. It is so simple, yet so costly to all clients and is another double sneaky billing method.

Solicitor A writes a letter to solicitor B. Normally solicitor B would then communicate with their client, obtain instructions and respond to solicitor A, who would then do the same. For very important letters or letters with cheques it is also appropriate to ask the receiving solicitor or party to acknowledge receipt, so you know it got there.

Enter the unscrupulous solicitor. When solicitor B receives the letter they write a short (usually standard) letter to the other side saying they have received the letter and are taking instructions. Their charges for receiving the letter and taking instructions just doubled. When the client writes with instructions they then do the same to the client, who will often mistake this for good service and be grateful at the time. It is only when they receive the bill that they will realise how this extra service has cost them dear.

More annoyingly, they then write and at the end of their letter they ask you to confirm receipt. You are left with the choice of doing so, at your client's expense, or ignoring the request, which can lead to a complaint to the Legal Complaints Service by the other side for ignoring them. They can therefore tar you with the same brush.

When you finally receive your bill it is highly unlikely that you will be able to tell that they have done this. The bill will be higher than it should and you will have no idea why or how to challenge it. The only way you may work out what happened is by looking at the letters you received from them and asking if those letters were really necessary.