We appreciate that legal costs are always a concern and this is especially so at a time of crisis in the family where budgets are already stretched.
As indicated above, we provide an initial fixed fee no obligation interview and as well as using that to meet you to understand the issues that you face, we can also use that meeting to explain our cost basis to you in greater detail.
If you ask us to act for you we will ask you for a £500 retainer at the start of the matter. This will be credited against your first bill. We will also send you our terms and conditions to read and sign, and if appropriate, one of our cost estimate sheets outlining the typical costs that might be involved in your case.
Our costs are based on an hourly rate for each of our solicitors. This covers the time spent in meetings with the solicitor and the time the solicitor spends in working on your matter. We do not charge separately for, for example, typing documents or photocopying (unless we are talking about significant amounts).
When we know what might be involved in your matter, we can give you our estimate on the time we think the matter might take and therefore the costs that might be incurred. In many cases much will depend on how the matter is dealt with by the other parties involved and unfortunately it is sometimes very difficult to predict at the beginning what the costs will be.
Once we know how the matter is going to develop, there are certain aspects we will be able to be quite precise on (for example the work in dealing with the divorce where the divorce is undefended). However the time to be taken to resolve, for example, the finances or children arrangements is going to depend on the complexity of the problems and how willing the other party are to settle matters.
Keeping Costs under review
We will ensure that we inform you of costs as the case develops. We will let you have interim bills from time to time so you can keep a track of the costs position.
In all cases and at all times we will keep the costs carefully under review and when necessary we will analyse and advise you of the “costs benefit” of continuing with the matter. In some cases a stage may be reached where it becomes sensible to settle a matter on terms because the costs and risks of not doing so are disproportionate. If we reach that stage we will advise you.
Throughout the matter never feel embarrassed to ask us what the costs are and what the cost of taking a particular step are likely to be. If you wish to put a upper limit on the costs at any point then we are happy for you to do that and we can then let you know when that limit is reached so you may make a decision as to how much further you wish to proceed.
In most aspects of family law the general rule is that each person pays their own costs. However in certain circumstances one can seek an order that your partner should pay the costs you have had to incur. However this is not automatic and normally only applies either on the divorce proceedings themselves or if the other party has been unreasonable in the way they have conducted the litigation.
If we obtain a costs order against the other side you need to appreciate that you are still liable to pay our costs and the order is a direction by the court that the other party should reimburse you the costs you have had to incur. We will advise you about this in more detail if this arises in your case.