Challenging Solicitor Fees
If you think that a solicitor has charged you more than you agreed to pay then you may be able to challenge the solicitor’s bill. There are very strict time limits for challenging a solicitor’s bill so don’t delay when seeking advice.
If a solicitor fails to advise you about the likely costs that will be incurred if you instruct him or her, then you may be able to successfully challenge the solicitor’s bill.
Since September 1999 it has been a mandatory requirement for solicitors to advise clients in writing about the likely costs. Failure to do so is a professional conduct issue. The Legal Ombudsman has the ability to impose a penalty on any solicitor failing to comply with their obligations in relation to costs advice.
The solicitor’s advice on cost must be reasonably accurate. If a solicitor provides a cost estimate that is then exceeded by more than a permissible margin of error (usually about 20%) there is a good chance his bill will be reduced back to the level of the initial estimate without the need to prove that the solicitor has in fact been negligent.
Poor advice about costs, or negligent legal advice from a solicitor concerning the merits of a case, can have disastrous consequences for the client. For example, if you are told you have a strong case that will cost £20,000 to bring the case to trial but half way through the process you are informed that the £20,000 has already been spent and the costs estimate is revised to £100,000, you may be forced to drop the case and face substantial losses through wasted legal fees – both your own and your opponent’s. If it can be shown that the solicitor’s costs advice was negligent, you could bring a professional negligence claim against the solicitor.
Even in “no win, no fee” cases when the solicitor is only paid if the case is won, good advice about the solicitor’s costs is essential. If a case is lost, although there is no fee payable to the solicitor, you may have a liability to pay the opponent’s legal costs. It is important that your solicitor arranges insurance against this risk. We have advised many clients in connection with claims against solicitors who have failed to advise them of the need to insure against the risk of a liability for their opponent’s costs.
Call us free on 0800 3890 385 or contact us online and one of our specialist solicitors will get back to you.