LITIGATION COSTS EXPLAINED
If you’re considering litigation? You may be asking yourself …“How much will it cost?”
In very straight forward matters, where the amount of work required is known, fixed fees can work, but litigation is often unpredictable. There are many factors that affect the amount of work needed and as a result you may have to pay your lawyer by the hour.
The amount of the costs depends on the amount of time your lawyer spends on your matter. There are several factors that impact the costs you pay, so let’s explore them here.
These are the rates charged by the lawyer undertaking the work. Across the industry rates often vary from around £100-£400 per hour + VAT for a litigation lawyer. Rates tend to increase in the bigger cities, particularly London. The experience of the lawyer will also affect the rates. Importantly, you need to make sure your lawyer has the ability to carry out the work, so do not be afraid to ask about their experience.
Each hour is broken down into 10 units. Each unit is 6 minutes long. If your lawyer spends 30 minutes on a call with you at an hourly rate of £220 per hour, that’s 5 units at £22, so £110 + VAT.
OUR TOP TIPS
1. Make sure that any calls you have with your lawyer are focused and to the point
2. The more work you can do, the less your lawyer has to do
3. Some lawyers (not us) like to charge a unit for an incoming letter or e-mail – watch out for that
THE URGENCY OF THE MATTER
Instructing a lawyer late in the day means intensive work will be needed over a short period of time to get to grips with the case. Remember that hourly rate!
OUR TOP TIP
Do not leave it until the last minute. Seek advice as early as possible. It will save you time, money and stress.
BE TRANSPARENT & HONEST WITH YOUR LAWYER
The advice you get will be based on the facts and evidence you provide. Occasionally, cases can be lost due to facts or evidence arising at a later date. We would prefer to tell you at the outset that you have a weak case or no case at all. It’s therefore vital that you tell us everything, warts n’ all.
OUR TOP TIP
Just give it to us straight so that we can advise you properly.
THE COMPLEXITY OF THE ISSUES
This will also affect how much time it takes to understand and tackle the issues. Counsel might be used to advise on matters and provide advocacy throughout the claim. Try to narrow down the issues in dispute between the parties.
OUR TOP TIPS
1. Watch out for lawyers who rely on counsel too much. This may show inexperience and will cost you more money
2. Try not to take issue with everything. Concentrate on what will get you success
This is often needed in order to provide an opinion from a specialist. For example, a surveyor may be needed to prepare a report on a claim involving defective building works. Experts often charge in excess of £1000 for a report. The more experts, the greater the cost. If your opponent also obtains an expert report, joint reports must then be prepared between the respective experts to try to agree and narrow the issues. The quality of the expert is so important.
OUR TOP TIP
Only use an expert if it is absolutely necessary.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions about the expert’s suitability.
Why not ask for a copy of their CV? Have they got court experience – if not, stay away.
Never approach a case on the basis that you will be 100% successful. There are always counter arguments, and no two judges are the same, so outcomes can differ. Be pragmatic. Taking a hit on the amount you think your claim is worth could save considerable costs in the long run.
OUR TOP TIP
Make sure that you start negotiations as early on as possible. This will save costs because even if early settlement is not achieved, it will often narrow the issues between the parties and save costs ahead.
Preparation for trial means preparing court bundles, arranging for experts and witnesses to attend and instructing counsel. Trials can take days or even weeks, so the costs shoot up during this period. By this stage, each party can easily have spent tens of thousands of pounds.
OUR TOP TIP
Try to avoid trial – always look at mediation.
HOW WE DEAL WITH COSTS IN LITIGATION
First of all, if you haven’t already checked out our page (How we work), take a look next. This sets out how we work with new clients.
• Our hourly rates vary from £125 – £250 plus VAT, depending on the nature of the matter.
• At the outset, we always provide an estimate of costs for the work involved, so there are no surprises. In sum cases we may be able to offer fixed fees for each stage of the litigation.
• Sometimes at the very outset, if there are lots of documents to review, we will offer a fixed fee quote, usually between £125-£250 + VAT, to review these to let you know if you have a case.
• We do not charge for receiving letters or e-mail.
• We will bill you at the end of each month for the work undertaken.
We also offer a “light touch approach”
This means that you could undertake the litigation yourself as a Litigant in Person, but with support from one of our lawyers as and when needed. This is the “light-touch” approach.
Here fixed fees or hourly rates can be agreed, subject to the circumstances, but our charges will reflect the amount of time our lawyers spend helping you. By working in this way, guidance and advice can be given as and when needed. Also, as a Litigant in Person you are entitled to recover reasonable payments made by you for professional advice relating to the conduct of legal proceedings.
Find out if you can recover your costs if you win in litigation with this easy to read guide. Includes a link to litigation costs explained.
We pride ourselves in providing a personal service, which is at the centre of everything we do. As a modern practice, we focus on litigation, dispute resolution and contract drafting. Providing expert legal advice to business people, delivered with integrity.