Solicitor Fees: Faxes

You might think that there is nothing dubious about the use of the good old fax machine, but you would be wrong. Often solicitors will included clauses in their client care documentation entitling them to charge for faxes sent and received in their solicitor fees. This may look innocuous enough, but this is usually a charge ON TOP of the charge for the letter out or in (and we have already explained how letters in should not normally be charged separately).

The logic is that someone has to monitor the fax machine or stand next to it while the fax goes out. However, this is usually done by support staff and is supposed to be covered by the "overheads" element of the hourly rate. With modern technology solicitors can often fax direct from their computer in any event and modern fax machines can also scan the fax first before it gets sent, so you do not have to stand there checking every page goes through. The reality is that it rarely increases the time the solicitor has to spend on the case, so why should it be charged for?

Clients rarely control when a fax is sent, the solicitors usually do. Use of faxes is therefore an easy way to increase the cost to the client without the client having any control over it. In a world where solicitors can normally e-mail direct from their case management system the practice is archaic. It is also annoying if you are on the receiving end because you end up with both a fax and hard copy of the letter making the file twice as big as it should be.

So, beware any client care letter allowing the solicitor to charge extra for faxes sent or received.