Solicitors' Costs - The Basics

Solicitors costs should be simple to get right, but seem to be even simpler to get wrong and these errors often end up costing clients £1,000's! The law on costs has developed over a considerable period of time and particularly over the last few years with the Jackson Report which reviewed civil costs. So it never ceases to amaze us how little many solicitors know about legal costs. Costs are fundamental to how a solicitors' business is run and how they provide a service to their clients.

If you think you have been misled about who would be conducting your case and should not be paying as a result, or you have been charged incorrectly, please contact us to discuss how we can help.

We can help. Call us on 01935 823883

Solicitors' Costs

What Are Solicitors' Costs?

Solicitors' costs are sums paid for legal services and include solicitors’ fees and charges, disbursements, expenses, remuneration and any additional liability incurred under a funding arrangement. The costs cover all lawyers, such as barristers, as the solicitor is the gatekeeper for other professionals on a case to be paid.

Solicitors sometimes call their charges "profit costs", because they include a profit element. The basis for their charges can be time (i.e. an hourly rate), a percentage basis (i.e. a percentage of damages received), capped or fixed. The costs which are payable are calculated according to the contract, also known as the retainer. This forms the fundamental basis of all solicitors' costs.

How Much Should A Solicitor Charge?

The legal charges a client is liable to pay are supposed to be calculated based upon the terms of the retainer. They should bear some resemblance to the estimate the client is given, or there should be a good reason why this is not the case. Updates to the costs estimate should be given regularly. Unfortunately in some cases, this does not prevent your lawyer from raising a bill for whatever they like and relying upon you to raise any challenges. This is why it is vitally important to read and understand the contract with your solicitor and if there is anything you do not understand, ask them about it, before you sign it.

When Will Bills Be Sent?

Bills may be sent as the case proceeds, in which case they are usually final bills for the work covered by the bill, or requests for payments on account. At the end of the matter you should be sent a final bill. When a bill is sent there are entitlements to challenge this, but those challenges must be brought promptly so you cannot afford to wait around.

Can Bills Be Paid By The Other Side?

If Court proceedings are issued, you are only entitled to recover your legal costs from the other side if there is a Court Order allowing this to happen. If the matter settles pre-issue, you are only entitled to recover your legal costs from the other side, if there is an agreement they will pay them. Your solicitor should advise you of this entitlement throughout your case and the associated risks of them not being paid.

For advice about Solicitors' Costs call us on 01935 823883