How much will it cost? Litigation is a time consuming and expensive business. This can mean that in disputes of low monetary value the cost to take the case to trial exceeds the amount in dispute. The courts have recognised this and the rules focus on aiming to keep costs proportionate to the issues or amounts involved (see the later section on costs for further information). However, anybody embarking on litigation still needs to be aware of the likely costs of pursuing or defending an action.
Our fees will normally be based on the time we spend dealing with the claim but in appropriate cases we also offer other pricing models, such as fixed fees, conditional fee agreements and contingency fee agreements (see below).
In anything other than very straightforward cases (for example routine debt collecting) it is very difficult to give an estimate of the total cost at the outset. Much depends on the way in which your opponent approaches the litigation and on other factors which are outside our control.
We will give you the best estimate we can at the outset of the case and at appropriate stages as the case proceeds. Unless we enter into a specific agreement with you, these estimates are only a ‘best guess’ and not fixed price quotations. This includes the budget that must be prepared for Court use in many multi-track cases.
In addition to our professional fees, we may have to incur other expenses such as court fees and barristers’ fees, traditionally referred to as ‘disbursements’, on your behalf. If these are likely to be substantial we will endeavour to give you advance notice and obtain an estimate if asked to do so. We usually require larger items of expenditure, particularly barristers’ fees, to be paid in advance.
Conditional fee arrangements
In appropriate cases we can enter into conditional fee arrangements to pay for litigation. Under these agreements we agree to charge lower fees, or in some cases only expenses, if the case is lost, in return for higher fees than we would normally charge if the case is won. These are sometimes known as ‘no win, no fee’ arrangements. If you are interested in entering into such an agreement, please discuss this with the person who is dealing with your matter.
Contingency fee arrangements
If there are no court proceedings we may enter into a bespoke contingency fee agreement where we can agree with you the contingency basis on which we will be paid. In some instances where there are court proceedings we may agree to enter into a ‘damages based’ contingency fee arrangement. On this basis our charge will be a percentage of any recovery we achieve for you. Special court rules apply to these agreements and they are not suitable in many cases.
There is a wide range of insurance products available to cover the risk of having to pay your own or your opponent’s costs in the event that your claim is unsuccessful. These can be purchased as stand alone policies or in conjunction with a conditional fee agreement or litigation funding agreement. We are not able to advise you as to which policy best suits your circumstances but can give you details of insurers and brokers from whom you can obtain such advice. You should also check any household or business insurance policies as these may include legal expenses insurance which covers you for the case.
This is often used alongside insurance cover. Investors provide funds to cover litigation costs. If you win the case, you repay the funds provided plus a proportion of any money recovered. If you lose, you do not usually have to repay the funds. It is not available for every type of case but can be a useful option in the right circumstances.