|Name||Position||Hourly Charge-Out Rate Excluding VAT
|Trainee Solicitor/ Paralegal*||£130|
Smith & Stone LLP is a limited liability partnership registered in England and Wales with Registration Number OC402426. Authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority: SRA Number 627257. VAT Registration No: 227977560
The complexity of a case is not always related to its value. For defended debts, we prefer to use Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) wherever possible, rather than court proceedings, because ADR routes tend to be a quicker and cheaper option for our clients.
Small claims are allocated to the “small claims” track of the County Court. Proceedings can be issued online using Money Claims Online. Legal fees for a claim worth less than £10,000 are not usually recoverable, even if you win. Claims for less than £10,000 do not usually need the involvement of a solicitor.
Fast Track Claims
Claims for between £10,000 and £25,000 are allocated to the fast track of the county court. The trial will only take one day. The court will only allow you to recover fixed costs from your opponent if you win. Fixed costs are almost always less than we will charge you. The fixed costs set by the Ministry of Justice are available:
Money Claims Online
As mentioned with regards to small claims (or a straightforward) claim, it may not be cost-effective for you to instruct us fully to recover the debt (where we conduct the case for you and appear on the court record as your solicitors). We may instead advise you to deal with the matter yourself (or with our support on a “pay as you go” basis). Every case is different, so this option is not for everybody we will tell you whether we think that it would be appropriate for us to offer it to you, and this support service will then be charged at a fixed fee or on an hourly-rate basis.
Information about money claims online can be found here:
How long will it take?
How long it will take to complete recovery of your debt depends on several factors, including:
If a straightforward claim is settled without the need to issue proceedings, it might take between two weeks and three months to resolve. A fast track claim will take up to one year from the issue of proceedings to the trial date, depending on court availability.
A more complicated claim allocated to the court’s multi-track (reserved for more complex cases and for claims for more than £25,000) might take between one month (settled or undefended) and two years (if it is defended) to resolve. Some county courts have very long waiting lists for hearing and can take up to 7 weeks to process the paperwork.
How much will it cost?
It is very difficult to give an accurate estimate of the overall cost, because there is no such thing as an “average claim”.
This note gives general guidance and a range of average costs. In every case we are instructed on, we will provide detailed, case-specific estimates.
Funding your claim
In appropriate cases, we may offer to fund your claim for you using a Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA) or a Damaged Based Agreement In a CFA or a DBA, you will have to pay our fees plus any disbursements we pay on your behalf, if you win your claim. Although your opponent may be ordered to pay a contribution towards your legal fees if you win, but it is most unlikely to cover the full cost. You should be prepared for the fact that you may have to pay all or some of your legal fees from your recovery. In a CFA, you will also have to pay a success fee, expressed as a percentage of our hourly-rate charges not exceeding 100%, if you win your claim.
We will not be able to offer to fund you claim for you without first assessing the claim. We will charge for this assessment either on our usual hourly rates or for a fixed fee. How much the assessment will cost depends on the complexity of the case. Assessing a straightforward claim might cost in the region of £350-£500+VAT in addition to the cost of the initial review of the documentation.
We will only offer to fund your claim for you if a funding arrangement will be in your interests and will meet your needs. This is a complicated area and we will need to discuss it with you on a case by case basis. Under a CFA or a DBA either you pay for the disbursements or we may fund them for you. If we fund them for you it may increase the overall cost of your claim. Even if you do not win, you may have to pay our fees if the funding agreement is terminated. We will explain this to you if we offer to fund your claim.
If we offer to fund you claim, we will provide a comprehensive explanation tailored to the specific circumstances of your claim.
Where appropriate, we will use ADR. ADR is usually appropriate for a defended claim. The type of ADR we recommend will be specific to your claim. The main methods of ADR are:
Settlement negotiation between solicitors
Our charges will be on our hourly rate basis. In a straightforward claim, which settles after an initial exchange of correspondence, our charge will usually be between £750-1500+VATMediation
Our charged will usually be on an hourly rate basis, but in appropriate cases we may agree a fixed fee. Our charges will depend on how long we have to prepare for the mediation and the duration of the mediation, but in a straightforward case that takes half a day to mediate, our charges might be in the region of £2,000-£3000 +VAT and disbursements.Adjudication
If a claim qualifies for adjudication (not all do) our charges will usually be on an hourly rate basis. Our charges will depend on how detailed the adjudication documents need to be. A straightforward case that is adjudicated on paper only might cost between £8,000 to £30,000+VAT and disbursements
Arbitration can be just as expensive and take as long as court proceedings and is not often appropriate for recovery of a debt. A straightforward case that is arbitrated on paper only might cost between £8,000 to £30,000+VAT and disbursements.
Expert determination is usually appropriate for recovering an overage payment if there is a dispute as to whether and how much is payable. In a straightforward case, our fees in an expert determination might be between £5,000 and £10,000 plus VAT and disbursements.
All fees will be determined on a case by case basis. The information provided below is not a quotation. All clients will receive a client care letter and be provided with case specific information on instruction.
Our charges for any work will be based on our hourly rates. We are mindful of the need to ensure that our advice is cost effective and by experienced solicitors in the area of employment law, and will therefore be undertaken by one of our partners supported by paralegals, where appropriate.
For typical cases, basic scope: £10,000-£55,000 (incl VAT). Any work outside of the basic scope will be charged at our hourly rates. We will be transparent with fees for the duration of the process.
We will be able to supply a more accurate timescale for your specific case once we have more information. The timescale for employment cases depends on the employment tribunal and the co-operation of the other party, and therefore sadly, beyond our control.
“Disbursements” are costs we incur to pay a third party on your behalf. We would usually expect to incur some or all of the following disbursements. This is not an exhaustive list, because every case is different.
If court proceedings are issued, you must pay a fee on the issue of the claim, at various stages during the claim, and just before trial (if you are the claimant). The Ministry of Justice updates the court fees regularly and they are published: https://www.gov.uk/court-fees-what-they-are
Barristers are referred to as “Counsel”. They are specialist advocates who conduct trials. In a straightforward case, one of our lawyers will conduct hearings for you. If a barrister is required, his/her fee will depend on how experienced he/she is and how long the hearing is due to last. If the claim is allocated to the “fast track”, a barrister will usually charge the fee that is allowed by the court when it assesses costs on conclusion of the trial. These fees are updated by the Ministry of Justice and details can be founds: https://www.justice.gov.uk/courts/procedure-rules/civil/rules/part45-fixed-costs#rule45.38
If the case is not a fast track case, a barrister of 10 years’ experience might charge a fee for a trial that lasts for one day in the region of £8,000 to £12,000 + VAT.
If we use the services of a mediator, arbitrator or adjudicator to resolve your claim, you will be liable for his/her fees. Most charge on an hourly rate basis and their fees depend on the time spent. For a straightforward claim, fees can vary from around £500+VAT per party to £15,000+VAT. You may also have to pay for the hire of rooms and/or refreshments if a hearing is required.
If the debt concerns a property, we may need to obtain copies of the property’s register at HM Land Registry. It costs £3 for a copy of the Register and £3 for a copy of the plan.
If we need to obtain documents from Companies House we will pass on to you the cost of this service, which varies depending on which documents we need to apply for.
If we need to obtain copies of the judgment, we will charge you for the cost of the transcription service. The costs depend on the service provider and the length of the judgment. Other transcription fees may also apply.
If you need the evidence of an expert in order to prove your claim, we may need to instruct an expert to give evidence in support of your claim. The amount of the expert’s fee will depend on the amount of work he is required to do and usually an expert will agree a fixed fee. An expert’s fee could range from £800+VAT to £8,000 +VAT for a report or a determination. This excludes the cost of bringing an expert to court to give evidence for you.
If you are the claimant, the court rules require you to prepare bundles for hearings and for the trial. We may charge you for photocopying/printing, at 5p per sheet for a BW A4 page, 25p A4 colour, 10p A3 BW, 50p A3 colour. We may outsource photocopying to a third party and the cost will depend on the volume.
If it is necessary to send documents urgently to our client, counsel, expert, court or a witness we will charge you for the cost of the courier. The cost depends on the weight of the package and the distance. Other postage costs may also be incurred and charged.