Solicitors' Terms of Business: Dubious Clauses

You do not have to agree to the solicitors terms of business proposed. A number of contracts we have come across contain what are generally regarded as dubious clauses and we seek to highlight these here. They are all clauses which can often be successfully challenged. However, for advice on any specific clause in your contract feel free to contact us.

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Dubious Clauses

Fixed Fees

Fixed fees in themselves are not dubious, however the fact that solicitors do not stick to them is. The best example we have come across was a firm who fixed the fee and if their costs were below or up to this figure that is what they charged. If the costs came above this figure then they would charge the extra amount. A fixed fee is fixed unless they include a clause saying when it is not fixed. If it is only fixed if it favours them, why would you agree to this?

Interest

Most solicitors will charge interest on unpaid bills at the County Court rate for unsatisfied judgments (currently 8%). We have found solicitors that charge 1.5% per month (equivalent to 18% per annum).

Letters In

Letters out are charged as either a standard 6 minute unit or for the time taken (made up of 6 minute units). The time taken is intended to include the time it takes to read incoming letters. Where solicitors include a clause stating they also charge for letters in, they are effectively being paid twice for dealing with the letter in, will almost never recover this cost from the other side and will almost always have to look to the client to pay for this, irrespective of the outcome in the case. They try to get round it by saying there may be a shortfall between the costs the other side have to pay and the costs you have to pay. The truth is, it is almost guaranteed there will be a shortfall.