Basis Of Solicitor Charges

How a solicitor charges you should be discussed at the very outset of your case and documented in detail in the retainer contract with your solicitor. There are a varying number of different ways in which solicitor’s costs can be paid and the ones that are usually available are set out below.

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Solicitor Costs

Hourly Rate

As the name suggests, the fees are calculated by simply multiplying the time taken by the appropriate hourly rate. Added to this are disbursements. How the hourly rate is calculated is not simple, although all the client usually sees is the actual amount proposed. Clients rarely question this, despite the fact it can be the single most important aspect of how their costs are calculated. Some control can be regained by applying a costs cap (i.e. stating how much costs are authorised to begin with), but the reality is once that amount is used up, it is almost inevitable the cap will have to be increased.

Fixed Fees

The amount you pay for the lawyers' time is fixed, although disbursements may be charged on top. You should not be charged any more than this. However, they may only be fixed in given circumstances. If you are incurring additional costs, you should be told and if you receive a bill for more than the fixed fee, you should speak to your solicitor. If they are unable to give an explanation, seek our advice.

Conditional Fees

These are often referred to as "no-win, no-fee agreements". Either you do not pay for the solicitor’s time unless you "win" (a standard conditional fee agreement, or CFA) or you pay a reduced rate if you lose (a discounted fee conditional fee agreement, or DCFA). In either case there may be a premium or "success fee" added should you win. The idea is that all basic costs are charged to the other side, but the client is liable for the success fee. However, while there may be no fee for the solicitors time if the case is lost, you may still be liable to pay their disbursements. Other lawyers, such as barristers, instructed in the case may be treated as disbursements, or may enter into a separate conditional fee agreement with the solicitor. Conditional fee agreements do offer the opportunity to pursue a case where you have no or little money and formed part of the underlying strategy which enabled the government to dispose of Legal Aid in a large percentage of cases.

Contingency Fees Or Damages Based Agreements

These are agreements where the legal charges are calculated on the basis of a percentage of value. They were once unlawful, but after a change in procedure rules their popularity is increasing. Contingency fees are the main form of funding in the USA, primarily because it is rare to recover costs against an opponent.

Third Party Funding

You may be a member of a union, association or trade body which is prepared to fund your case, or alternatively you may have insurance which will fund your case. It will usually entail the solicitor having to disclose anything and everything about the case to the funder. If an offer is made by the other side, that the funder thinks should be accepted, they can withdraw cover if the offer is not accepted.

Variable Fixed Fees

The amount you pay is fixed dependent on the circumstances that arise. It is not completely fixed, but not as flexible as hourly rate. There is therefore some control.

Speak to us about the different types of fee arrangements available on 01935 823883