Basis of Solicitor Charges
The basis of solicitor charges which are normally available are set out below:
These are often referred to as "no-win, no-fee agreements". Either you do not pay for the solicitors' time unless you "win" (a standard conditional fee agreement) or you pay a reduced rate if you lose (a discounted fee conditional fee agreement), in which case there is a premium or "success fee" added should you win. The basic idea is that all costs are charged to the other side. 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 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.
These are agreements where the legal charges are calculated on the basis of a percentage of value. They are unlawful save in very limited areas, but 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.
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 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 seek advice.
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 that once that amount is used up it is almost inevitable that the cap will have to be increased and that additional costs will be incurred agreeing that increase.
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 and in the event that an offer is made by the other side that the funder thinks should be accepted they are likely to withdraw cover.
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.
If you need our help, either e-mail us anytime, or call 01404 861868.