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Reforms Re Civil Litigation Costs

On 14 January 2010 Lord Justice Jackson’s presented a ‘Final Report’ on his Review of Civil Litigation Costs. The report was then issued for use in the legal profession.  In accordance with its sphere of activity to promote ‘access to justice,’ the report is freely available on the internet – as per link.

Where the implementation of the proposals requires a change to the Court Rules (CPR) then these changes and recommendations would normally go out for consultation and to the legal profession prior to any changes being implemented.

We would not, therefore, expect to see any changes to the Civil Procedure Rules in the short term.

“Finally, certain of the proposals will require changes to the professional rules for implementation.  The Law Society is already in the process of considering costs issues and recently scrapped the remuneration certificate procedure as part of this.  However, any major changes to the professional rules require Government approval before they can be made so there is likely to be delay also”.

Your Legal Bills

There are many ways legal advisors charge their customers and equally, there are many ways in which a court can evaluate the costs you can recover from your opponents. As an overview, all legal bills should show you the dates between which the work was done and enough information for you to decide whether the bill is reasonable or not.

We operate two methods of charging income streams:

Our fixed costs

We always try and keep to the fixed cost regime, so that our clients are able to assess the cost of the services we provide at the outset. This ensures that a fixed cost is given so any work which flows from your instruction will not vary the costs we charge to you in any event.

We ask you to pay the amount we seek upfront. When received and cleared, those amounts are immediately paid into our client account. Your payment is retained in those client accounts until we action any work on your case.

You are assured at all material times that we will not ask you for any other sums to fulfil the engagement you have kindly asked us to undertake.

Our time-based costs

In some cases and where fixed cost arrangements are neither reasonable nor proportionate, we ask that our services are paid on a time based charging system. Again we ask that you pay a deposit with us and on account of works you want us to do-which will attract fees yet to be charged. This will ensure the work done is not troubled by credit control departments. The deposits will again be held in our client accounts. We are entitled to discharge the fees we raise from that client account.

In the event your account enters a deficit, we will be entitled to ask that top up the account so that your ongoing fees can be met.

The accounts we raise on a time-based commission will account for the costs incurred on a time management system You are entitled to receive a time record or work summary. If you want more information you may request a bill containing detailed items within three months of receiving a summary bill. This will then replace the summary bill and maybe more than the original bill – as it is fully detailed.

Your Payments on Account

This means paying your money upfront and towards future legal costs, i.e before your legal work is done. Requests from us can either be initiated at the start of the matter or during its conduct (dependant of a change of circumstances).

The legal profession mostly asks for some money upfront for a reason and that reason should be explained and tackled honestly. In short, we have little or no information as to your trading history and/or whether you are able to pay our fees if and when due. Therefore by taking the sum upfront and lodging them in a client account, it ensures that we will be paid when we raise our accounts and your money is protected and held outside our normal trading activity.

Until we account to the client account controller for the work done and fees rendered, the money still belongs to you and must be retained in the client account. Whether there is any interest earned and who gets this benefit depends on the amount, any term covering our retainer and how long it stays there.

We can operate and accept a commission on a credit basis, however we will have to take the client through a credit check which fees will be recoverable for the task. We do have clients on credit accounts, however, they are existing and repetitive clients with a payment track history.

If we make a valid request for a payment on account and the client fails to make the payment then we reserve the right, to refuse to act on any further work as long as this is a term of our retainer.

We do not make unrealistic demands for a payment on account or to use such ground to give us reason to dismiss a client.

There are various requirements-as to what amounts we could ask a client to pay. Most bills during the course of a case will be for bills “on account”, whereby we are merely asking for further monies on account. This means you cannot be sued for non-payment and the time limits for challenging those costs does not start to run until a final bill is issued.

Working Out the Legal Charges We Issue to You

The ways in which charges are worked out differ depending on whether your legal work has been contentious (with court proceedings) or non-contentious (without court proceedings). In both cases, your bill will contain enough information for you to see what work has been done and what you are being charged for so that you can decide whether to get your bill checked.

Bills for contentious work (court work)

If the work involved a court case, we can send you either a brief summary of costs (called a gross sum bill) or a bill containing detailed items. If you receive a summary, you may ask for a bill containing detailed items within three months. However, you cannot ask for this if we have already started to sue you for the money. If you ask for a bill containing detailed items, it will replace the original summary and can be for more or less than the summary.

Bills for non-contentious work

Non-contentious work is work that has not involved the courts but may involve work in other legal forums/tribunals. We may be required to give you more details of the work that has been done if you ask! This is not meant to be evasive however each legal area operates different rules in respect to cost computation systems.

Last modified: 15th April 2020