Does my solicitor have to give me an exact quote at the beginning of the matter?
Where it is possible, yes. Section 68(1) of the Solicitors (Amendment) Act 1994 provides that, as soon as practicable after beginning a matter, a solicitor provides the client with a written estimate of legal fees and outlay. This is usually possible in a sale or purchase of a property or will or probate matter.
If this is not possible, the solicitor must outline the basis on which fees will be charged and how this will apply to their particular case. This would usually apply in a personal injury matter or family law matter, as it is not possible to predict if the matter will settle or will run to a fully contested Court hearing. These rules are there to protect the solicitor and the client – by clearly defining the scope of the work and how much it will cost, it will prevent misunderstandings later on.
What should my legal bill include?
The bill must show clearly the different costs:
- The professional fee
- General expenses e.g. registered post
- Charges by third parties e.g. payments to the Courts service or the Land Registry
- VAT at 23%
Litigation is any case going through the Courts. A solicitor cannot charge a fee as a percentage of any court award or settlement received.
If I win my case, will the other side pay my legal costs?
You are always directly responsible to pay your own legal costs unless you agree that it will be covered by a third party e.g an insurance company . The other side will pay your costs, if ordered to do so by the Court or agreed in a settlement. Your solicitor should tell you how much money the other side is prepared to pay or obliged to pay under court scale costs, for your costs. If there is any shortfall you may have to pay a contribution of costs to your solicitor. This is matter that the solicitor discusses with the client.
You can then choose to accept it and pay the difference, or to have your bill taxed, that is, assessed by a taxing master, who will decide what costs should be paid. Order 99 of the Rules of the Superior Courts provides the criteria on which the bill of costs is assessed by the taxing master. There are lists of items which are valued individually in Appendix X of the Rules of the Superior Courts .
Section 68(6) of the Solicitors (Amendment) Act 1994 provides that, at the conclusion of a litigation matter, a solicitor writes to the client with a summary of the legal work carried out on their behalf and sets out what the solicitor recovered in costs, be it on a solicitor/client basis and party-and-party basis. This means that the solicitor , at the end of the case, sends the client a copy of the bill of costs detailing what the solicitor recovered from the defendant.
Madden Law provides its clients with a letter outlining the costs involved, as soon as possible. If it is not possible to define the scope of the costs, then we set out how our fees will be calculated. Occasionally additional work arises, which was not within the scope of the instructions at the commencement of the matter. If this occurs Madden Law advise our clients of this and get their approval to commence the additional work at an agreed additional cost.