Our offices are open between 9am and 5:30pm from Monday to Friday each week (excluding Public Holidays and Bank Holidays).
Who are you dealing with?
When you instruct our firm you will receive a letter confirming your instructions and a letter with our terms and conditions which will set out the status of the person dealing with your case and details of the Principal who will have overall supervision of your matter.
Information in respect of costs and charges will be confirmed to you in writing at the outset of your case. In certain cases, a fixed fee will be charged and in other cases an hourly rate will be charged. Vat and disbursements will be added on top.
Figures given to you for charge out rates of any individuals in the firm are of course subject to periodic review.
Charge out rates may also be increased if your case becomes complex or requires additional work that was not anticipated. We will keep you informed of any changes in costs.
Unless we have given you a fixed fee for dealing with your case, our charge out rates will apply to all the work done on your case including time spent on the telephone, reading incoming post, dictating letters, preparing file notes of meetings, considering and drafting documents, preparing instructions and briefs to barristers, researching law where necessary, attending conferences with barristers, attendances at Court, meetings with you, sending and receiving emails and so on.
As well as the charges made by this firm, disbursements such as any barristers or experts fees and Court fees will be added to the bill.
Our charges are payable ‘win or lose’. You are primarily liable for the charges. Even if the Court orders someone else to pay your costs, you will have to pay in the first instance and you may be reimbursed when funds clear from the person ordered to pay your costs.
In cases involving Court proceedings it is always difficult to forecast the amount of time that will be spent since much will depend upon the attitude of the other person in your case and their solicitors, the volume and complexity of the documents disclosed and the time required for preparation and in Court.
Our firm will always try to give you my best estimate of the likely costs of your case, but the estimates are not fixed. We will give you an estimate at least every six months.
It is our firm’s standard practice both to require money on account and to deliver regular interim bills on account where appropriate.
The interim bills on account are based on an estimate of the costs incurred to the date of that bill. These will be a guide to the total costs to that date, although they may require some adjustment at the end of a case. Payment should be made within 14 days together with a further payment on account of costs. The amount held by us on account of costs will be deducted from the bills we send to you. On some occasions we may require additional payments on account (for instance when we are about to incur responsibility for payment of fees to barristers or other experts or incur other disbursements or when we need to prepare for a substantial hearing). If any bill and any further money on account is not paid in accordance with these terms of business, our firm reserves the right to deliver a final bill in respect of all work done and cease to act as your solicitors.
When we deliver a bill we ask that it is paid within 14 days. If it is not paid within one month from the date of delivery of the bill, we reserve the right to charge interest at the rate of 8% per annum on the outstanding sum whether the bill is interim or final.
The final charge will be dependent upon all the circumstances, in particular the total amount of time involved on the matter, which cannot be foreseen with any certainty, although we will do our best to keep you informed as to the costs incurred as the case progresses.
You may be ordered to pay the costs of someone else. In such a case, you must provide the firm with funds within seven days.
Please note that we will not be liable for the loss of any funds which we hold on your behalf due to the collapse of the bank where those funds are held in a client account.
If we make a claim under the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) in respect of money held by us on your behalf, we will, subject to your consent, give certain information relating to you to the FSCS to help them identify you and the amount to which you are entitled in our client account.
Recovering costs from the other person in your case
If you decide not to proceed with your case before Court proceedings are commenced, or if the case is settled before then you are unlikely to recover your costs from the other person.
In family cases, Courts do not automatically order the ‘loser’ to pay the ‘winner’s’ costs. It is most unusual for Orders for costs to be made in cases concerning children. Whilst such Orders for costs are not common, they are made in some cases. If necessary, please ask us as to whether an Order for costs would be made in your case.
If the other person in your case is ordered to pay your costs, please note:
- The other person in your case may refuse to comply with the Order. If they do not pay, then you will have to try to enforce the costs Order (for example by sending in the bailiffs or obtaining a charge over property owned by them) and this itself costs more money and takes time.
- The other person in your case may have very little or no money, or they may simply disappear. If this happens, you will not be able to recover the legal costs ordered to be paid by the other person or indeed any money or maintenance awarded to you.
- If the other person in your case is in receipt of legal aid it is very unlikely that the Court will make an order that the other person in your case would have to contribute anything to your costs.
In any event, no matter how successful you are at the final hearing of your case and irrespective of the other person being good for all the money which they are ordered to pay, they will be ordered to pay only the costs that the Court has assessed. There will nearly always be a shortfall which you will be liable for.
Proof of Identity
The law now requires solicitors to obtain evidence of the identity of their clients. We will therefore require you to provide us with documents to verify your identity and address.
Generally we will keep your affairs confidential at all times with some minor exceptions such as where a solicitor knows or suspects that a transaction on behalf of a client involves money laundering, the solicitor may be required to make a money laundering disclosure to the Serious Organised Crime Agency. If this happens, we may not be able to inform you that a disclosure has been made or of the reasons for it because the law prohibits “tipping off”. Other exceptions include where we have to disclose and/discuss your case because of a Court Order, or to a mortgage lender if we are acting for you and the lender, or because of the law or regulations which we are governed by.
Professional Indemnity Insurance
Our liability to you for a breach of your instructions will be limited to £2,000,000.
Ending instructing our firm
You may terminate your instructions in writing at any time, but we will be entitled to keep all your papers and documents while there is money owing to the firm for our charges and expenses. We may decide to stop acting for you only with good reason, for example:
- if you do not pay a bill;
- if you fail to comply with a request for payment of money on account;
- if you do not give clear or proper instructions;
- if we cannot continue to act without being in breach of rules of professional conduct;
- if there has been an irretrievable breakdown in trust and confidence;
- if there is conflict of interest; or
- if you act in such a manner that is not conducive to a good working relationship.
At the end of your case
We will keep your file of papers (except for any papers that you ask to be returned to you) for at least six years from when your case concludes on the understanding that after that time we have the authority to destroy it after this period.
If you require the file during the period while it is in storage, we can provide this to you on payment of our reasonable fees for delivery, locating any specific documents and making any copies for you. As you will appreciate, we hold a number of files in storage and it may take some time to retrieve your particular papers.