CONTENTIOUS MATTERS SCHEDULE
ADDITIONAL COSTS INFORMATION FOR CONTENTIOUS/LITIGIOUSN MATTERS
Costs (charges and expenses)
Professional regulations require us at the outset of a case to give you the best information we can of the level of costs (charges and expenses) that might be incurred up to and including a contested trial, although we would ask you to bear in mind that the vast majority of cases are resolved without any need to resort to Court or Tribunal proceedings and of those that result in proceedings only a small percentage progress to trial. We have an excellent track record of successfully concluding cases for clients both without having to resort to Court or Tribunal proceedings or, once proceedings commence, without having to proceed to trial.
The real problem with estimating costs lies in assessing how much time and what level of expenditure upon charges and expenses (such as Court or Tribunal fees, Counsel’s (barrister’s) fees and expert’s fees) a case may involve. We are sure you will appreciate it is impossible to predict with certainty at the outset of a case either all the points that will arise or all the work that will be involved in progressing it to a trial. Every case is different and a problem that seems simple at the beginning can become unexpectedly complex and vice versa. Much also depends upon the way an opponent handles a case which is something neither a client nor his lawyer can exert much control over. In addition, the way in which a client insists a case is pursued and the demands the client places on his own lawyer’s time can have a significant impact upon costs too.
In the event any form of Court or Tribunal proceedings becomes necessary your legal costs and potential liability for the other party’s legal costs will increase considerable and quickly. A specific estimate in respect of costs of the litigation will be provided to you.
In relation to costs generally you need to bear in mind that:-
As indicated above, our charges will be calculated primarily on the basis of hourly rates.
We will aim to deliver bills for our charges and expenses at monthly intervals, or such other intervals as we consider appropriate (all interim bills are final in respect of the time stated in them). This will allow you to monitor and review the costs associated with the case as it progresses. You can then decide at any time whether the costs that are being incurred justify continuing to instruct us.
If we need to use Counsel or an expert they too are likely to charge with reference to an hourly rate, dependent upon their seniority and experience, details of which we will aim to obtain in advance for you.
If we need to make any application to Court (or a Tribunal), or the case proceeds to trial, Counsel will usually calculate his fees with reference to a daily rate, often multiplying his hourly rate by a figure of 10 hours to cover all work on the day, including time in Court and discussing the case after Court (or a Tribunal).
We will charge you for time spent making clear attendance notes of calls and meetings. Attendance notes are extremely important for not only do they act as a contemporaneous record of the work or discussions to which they relate, (without which it would be impossible to accurately recall all of the developments in relation to the matter, the evidence and information obtained and the advice given), but also they amount to proof of the work undertaken which can be required in support of a claim for costs should you be successful in securing an Order for costs against your opponent. All work undertaken will be charged on a time-spent basis. Each working hour is split into 10 units and our time is recorded in relation to the number of units spent engaged in dealing with the case.
Professional regulations also require us to supply you with this detailed Client care letter and the costs reports to which we have referred above, the contents of which must be specific to your matter. You will not be charged for the preparation of such letters.
In addition to our charges and the fees of Counsel and any experts, you should also budget for other expenses such as Court (or Tribunal) fees, travelling expenses and photocopying charges. Please also review below “Other party’s charges and expenses” for which you may be liable.
Any estimate we provide you with will be reviewed as the case develops. We will let you know if we feel it should be changed and explain the reasons for the change.
Where we are discharging an expense on your behalf we will generally ask you to place us in funds in advance to cover the amount of the expected payment. We will only pay out the expense once we are in receipt of cleared funds. Waiting for cheques to clear can cause a delay when issuing Court (or Tribunal) proceedings. If you wish proceedings to be issued urgently you should make appropriate arrangements to ensure that we have cleared funds available.
Money On Account
For the Private Sector Only: It is our standard practice to require a client to make an initial advance payment on account of charges and expenses which are expected in the following weeks or months. This avoids delays in progressing the matter.
For All Clients: We will apply that payment on account towards unpaid bills and expenses as set out below. As indicated above we deliver bills at monthly intervals or such other intervals as we consider appropriate. We expect these bills, which will be final bills in respect of the periods to which they relate, to be paid in full and on time in accordance with our payment terms failing which any payments on account we are holding will be applied accordingly. By signing and returning this letter, or otherwise accepting the terms and conditions set out in this letter, you agree and authorise us to apply payments on account in this way. Non-payment of any requested payment on account may lead us to either suspend work in relation to this matter or to terminate our retainer with you.
It is important to understand that your total charges and expenses may be greater than any payment held on account.
We shall bill you for our fees monthly throughout the course of the matter or at such other intervals as we have agreed with you. Our bills are due for payment within one month of their date.
If you fail to pay a bill within one month of its date, we may exercise a lien for unpaid costs. This means that we may hold on to your papers and other assets in our possession pending payment of those costs. We may also suspend our work for you, or terminate our engagement.
You must be content that, in your view, the potential benefit and outcome of our involvement justifies the costs that are being and are to be incurred. Based upon the facts known to us at present, we consider that the benefit to you and intended outcome of our work justifies those costs.
Other Party’s Charges and Expenses/Orders for costs
The general rule in Court proceedings in England and Wales is that the losing party will be ordered to pay or make a contribution towards the legal expenses incurred by the successful party.
Therefore, If your case is successful, you may be entitled to a contribution towards your costs from your opponent, or some other party. However, not all legal costs and fees are recoverable, and it is extremely rare to make a full recover of your costs. As an example, it may be that the Court (or Tribunal) decides that the hourly rate it is prepared to allow should be below the hourly rate we charge. If you would like details of the hourly rate guidelines that are being used by the Court (or Tribunal) we shall be happy to supply them. You will remain liable to pay our bills delivered as the matter progresses and our final fees and disbursement even if an aware is made in your favour against a losing party.
You will also be responsible for meeting the legal costs we expend in recovering any contribution towards your legal expenses which the Court order the other party to pay.
On the other hand, if your case is unsuccessful, you are likely to have to bear a substantial proportion of your opponent's legal costs and disbursements, as well as your own. In some cases, the court will assess costs as the case progresses eg on interim court applications and, the losing party has to pay the other party’s assessed legal expenses of that application within 14 days even though the court proceedings are continuing. This is a complex subject, which we shall be happy to explain further.