Solicitor Costs & Recoverability of Legal Fees

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What Are Solicitor Costs?

Most individuals who require the legal services of legal professionals such as Solicitors will firstly want to know about Solicitor costs. These charges will vary based on the type of legal issue being dealt with and the time it takes for the work to be undertaken however, generally speaking charges are either on an hourly rate basis, or on a fixed fee basis. Some of the main areas of law which people often require assistance with are:

  • Conveyancing Solicitor – assistance providing in the process to buy or sell a property
  • Divorce Solicitor
  • Wills and Trust Solicitor
  • Business Law
  • Immigration Law
  • Personal Injury Claims and Litigation

How are Solicitor Costs Funded?

Legal fees can be expensive, particularly when your legal representative is likely to charge a minimum of £111ph, and fees can sometimes go up to £300ph+.  Private retainers require any hourly rate or fixed fees to be paid on account however, it is not uncommon for potential clients to lack the necessary upfront funds to obtain the legal assistance they require.  Legal Aid is available in certain cases (such as family disputes or housing disrepair) for those on a low income, whereas Conditional Fee Agreements (CFAs) and Damages Based Agreements (DBAs) limit your exposure to paying legal fees dependant upon excess, and up to certain caps.

How are Solicitor Costs Determined?

Solicitor costs can vary from case to case dependant upon the legal work required. For example, some Solicitors charge a fixed fee for their work such as a conveyancing or immigration solicitor. Along with the Solicitor costs for the legal advice, in a fixed fee case there are also disbursements you should expect to pay in addition, such as for local searches, stamp duty and estate agent charges (conveyancing fees) or Home Office application fees (Immigration costs).

In cases of Divorce, the legal costs will vary based on whether you are the Petitioner to the divorce or the Respondent. You are likely to be given a fixed rate for a divorce which is not contested but Solicitor fees can rise should the divorce be disputed between the parties and should the matter proceed to Court. At this point, the Solicitor may seek to revise their legal costs estimate based on hourly rates.

In the case of Personal Injury, most Solicitors will act under No Win No Fee agreements (CFAs). This means that if you are not successful in your case, then law firms will not charge you for their legal fees. However, there is a success fee which will apply to cases which are successful, which are deductible from the damages recovered.

It should be noted that some areas of law are entitled to legal aid, such as assistance in a claim for asylum in the UK. This will mean that you will be entitled to free legal advice and this entitlement is assessed based on your means. You will also be required to work with a Solicitor who holds a legal aid contract and can provide the free legal advice.

In most cases, even where a fixed fee is applied to the work undertaken by a Solicitor, where the case becomes contested, more complicated or has to go to Court, the Solicitor costs may be charged at an hourly rate.  In civil litigation, it is often that the losing party pays the winning party’s costs, and so you may be able to recover some or all of your Solicitor’s costs as part of an final costs order.


What are Solicitor Costs Hourly Rates?

Hourly Rates in relation to Solicitor Costs vary based on the Solicitor’s level of experience and the law firm’s location. The Solicitors are given a Grade based on experience e.g. a Grade A Solicitor will carry over 8 years post qualified experience. The location is also given a Band based on the overheads of the area e.g. most City Centre law firms will fall under National Band 1 and outer city centre areas fall under National Band 2. London has their own set of Bands due to the increased overheads.

The current guideline Hourly Rate for a Grade A Solicitor based in Manchester City Centre is £217 per hour. The most up to date Hourly Rates and details on how to determine the Hourly Rate for your Solicitor can be found here. However, it should be noted that these hourly rates are a guideline only and not a set rate thus it is important to discuss the solicitors costs with your Solicitor. Details of this should legally be provided and agreed to before any work can commence on your case.


How are Solicitor Costs Recovered?

Where the Solicitor is charging a fixed fee, they will most likely request this fee upfront before any work commences. In claims where an hourly rate fee is charged, you are likely to be billed throughout your case for work done. The frequency of the Bills should be agreed between yourself and your Solicitor.

In personal injury and other civil claims, if you are successful, the Solicitor will take a percentage from your award or damages to cover the success fee. In addition to this, the Solicitor will provide a detailed Bill of Costs to the opposing party specifying the time spent on the case, the hourly rates utilised and any other fees incurred such as Court fees. Should you be successful in your personal injury or litigation matter, your Solicitor will be entitled to recover their costs from the unsuccessful party.


How Can ARC Costs Assist?

ARC Costs are Costs Draftsman and Costs Lawyers who are regulated by the Association of Costs Lawyers. When you instruct a Solicitor, they must send you documentation relating to the funding of your case. We can provide you with advice on the reasonableness and validity of any such agreement, and we also provide advice to Solicitors on ensuring their retainers provide sufficient information to the client.

If you are in a position whereby you do not agree with the costs which your Solicitor has charged you, we can provide assistance in disputing a Solicitors Bill of Costs by providing legal arguments as to why aspects of the Bill may not be reasonable.

If you are a Solicitor with a costs issue to address, we regularly provide assistance in the recovery of costs such as through the detailed assessment process in litigation by preparing a Bill of Costs, negotiating with the other party, preparing Points of Dispute/Reply and providing representation at Detailed Assessment.

Whether your costs query is in relation to solicitor/client costs or costs which are recoverable inter partes, an experienced costs expert from the ARC Costs team will be able to assist.

To discuss your costs query further, you may contact us on 01204 397302 or email one of our costs experts at Alternatively, you are welcome to complete our enquiry form online and a costs expert will contact you in due course to discuss your query further.

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