If you are not eligible for Legal Aid, or opt for our PRIVATE AID service, you can take advantage of additional benefits, such as round-the-clock direct contact with your designated lawyer. Whilst the pressures of legally-aided cases increase, due to continual cuts in government funding, our PRIVATE AID service can be tailored to meet your needs and adapted to suit your available funding.
Ordinarily, we charge for work carried out for you according to the amount of time spent and the number of documents and letters produced or received. This will include time spent on the following matters:-
- Seeing you or talking to you on the phone
- Talking to your witnesses
- Researching the legal position and background of your case
- Reading and studying papers and documents in your case
- Preparing papers for your Barrister and the Court
- Attending meetings with your Barrister
- Attending Court on your behalf.
All fee earners in the Firm have an hourly expense rate which is reviewed from time to time. We detail the hourly rate of your designated lawyer and will tell you if the rate changes.
VAT is added at the current rate. If you are registered for VAT the VAT element may be recoverable if the legal work is done for the purposes of your business.
We charge for short letters written, emails and short telephone calls and for letters and emails received. Longer letters and telephone calls are charged according to the time spent on them.
In some cases, it may be possible to discuss a fixed fee. This means that we will quote a fee for the conduct of the case and we will not charge more than that amount without agreement. If a fixed fee is agreed, we will set out in writing both the fee and exactly what this covers. This sort of arrangement is suitable for some cases, such as road traffic offences or those involving representation at court for only one hearing or a guilty plea.
It can be very difficult to give an estimate of costs at the start of a case but we will try to give the most accurate estimate we can. Subsequently,we will advise if the estimate that we have given at the start is close to being exceeded. If a case is particularly lengthy, you can expect to be informed every six months or so, of the amount of costs and disbursements that have built up in your case.
Costs on Account
When we first see a privately paying client we always ask for money on account of costs before commencing work.
Money on account is a payment towards the final bill, in other words we require you to pay money in advance to cover our costs. As we undertake work and charges against this money, we may require a top up of to this fund. The money is lodged with our bank in your name, in a “Client Account”. We will not ask for a payment on account that is larger than the estimate of the total costs of your case.
We try to provide you with the best possible information about the likely costs of your case both at the time of engagement with our services, and as the matter progresses. We will review the cost estimate after each court hearing, and whenever further material is received from the prosecuting authority, as this may affect the preparation which is required. We will advise you in writing if the overall cost estimate is likely to increase by more than 10 per cent of the original estimate.
We may send you interim bills regularly, usually every month, so that you can keep up to date with your legal costs.
We may have to incur expenses (often called disbursements) as part of the proper conduct of your case such as Court fees, Barristers, Doctors or other expert’s fees. You will be asked to deposit funds with us to cover any disbursements as they occur.
If you lose your case you may be ordered to pay the Prosecution’s costs in addition to ours. In addition, you may be obliged to pay compensation if you are convicted and the complainant has suffered injury or financial loss.
If you win your case; that is to say you are acquitted at trial or the Prosecution offer no evidence against you or discontinue the proceedings against you; we will make an application to the Court for an Order for costs in your favour. In such circumstances the Court ought to make such an Order, however, it cannot be guaranteed that it will do so. Furthermore, we must explain that the Regulations governing such costs applications allow for the recovery of those costs “at Legal Aid rates only”. Legal Aid rates are considerably lower than our private hourly rates referred to earlier in this letter (the rate at which you will be charged).