Legal Costs Simplified
EXPLANATION OF COSTS
1. Costs in general
At the beginning of your Conveyance, Probate, Litigation case or other task you require us to undertake, as required by law, (Section 68 Solicitors (Amendment) Act, 1994) we shall give you information, in writing, about our fees and other expenses that may be incurred. This is called a “Section 68 letter”.
You agree to pay the proper and reasonable charges that this firm incurs as they fall due. These charges may include stamp duty, Land Registry fees, search fees, counsel's fees, court fees, together with the fees of other professional persons and all other necessary charges reasonably paid or contracted for by this firm as your agent in pursuing this matter. Charges may also include legal costs accountants' fees (see below for further explanation of what these are).
The law allows us to keep a client’s file as security for any costs until we have been paid for our services. We will give you a breakdown of any charges we have incurred as soon as practicable.
2. Litigation Only
“Party and Party Costs” -v- “Solicitor and Client Costs”?
Our objective is to keep the legal costs incurred in your Litigation case at a reasonable level. Legal Costs may be measured either on a ‘Party and Party’ basis or a ‘Solicitor and Client’ basis.
It is the general practice of Solicitors, and this firm, to charge costs on a ‘Solicitor and Client’ basis.
It is the general practice of the Courts to award costs to the successful party on a ‘Party and Party’ basis. These costs are usually awarded against the unsuccessful party (“the Defendant”)
It is important that you understand that even if your case is successful, the legal costs which you incur (being ‘Solicitor and Client’ costs) will not usually be recovered in full from the unsuccessful party by an award of costs (which are limited to ‘Party and Party’ costs). In otherwords, ‘Solicitor and Client’ costs usually exceed the costs that the unsuccessful party to the case is obliged to pay being the “Party and Party” Costs. The amount of the excess must be paid by you, usually out of your compensation. We will endeavour at all times to keep this to a minimum and you too can play a role in helping us to do this.
You should be aware that if you are unsuccessful in your claim the other party will, in all probability, be entitled to an award of costs against you.
“Solicitor and Client” costs will more often than not exceed the “Party and Party” costs awarded to a successful litigant as they take into account the additional services proffered by, and costs that are incurred by, a Solicitor while co-ordinating the case with the client either by corresponding in writing, attending the client by telephone, attending meetings with the client at the client’s request, giving regular updates, dealing with side issues not directly relevant to the case and so on. Solicitor and Client costs will also often exceed the Party and Party costs for example where a witness called on your behalf such as a Doctor, Engineer, Accident Claims Investigator or other professional witnesses charges in excess of the amount recoverable on a “Party & Party” basis. Again, the difference between the amount of costs recovered from the Defendant or the Insurance Company and the amount billed by the Expert witness will have to be borne by you.
3. How to reduce “Solicitor and Client” costs:
In order to keep these “Solicitor and Client” costs at a minimum, we will advise if we believe that you, the client, could appropriately carry out some of the tasks. The following are a number of way you can keep these additional costs down:
- Avoid unnecessary telephone calls to your Solicitor.
- Avoid unnecessary written communication.
- Avoid unnecessary visits to your Solicitors office.
- Attend any medical appointments arranged.
- Comply with any reasonable requirements of your Solicitor without undue delay.
- Advise your Solicitor of any change of address or telephone number without delay.
- Give truthful and unambiguous instructions to your Solicitor at all times.
- Avoid, if at all possible, asking our Solicitor to give undertakings to Banks, Hospitals or other third parties.
In this regard, we wish to draw your attention to the manner in which these Solicitor and Client Costs will be calculated:
4. How our charges are calculated:
(a) Some legal work may be undertaken on an hourly charge:
The hourly rates charged by this firm break down as follows:
- Principal: €350* per hour
- Solicitor: €250*per hour
- Legal Executive / Secretary: €120* per hour
* These rates are exclusive of VAT and Outlays and are reviewed and subject to change on an annual basis.
(b) The following are the key factors that determine this firm’s charges for work not billed on an hourly basis:
the skill, labour and responsibility required for your case and any specialised
knowledge which we give or apply;
the complexity, difficulty, rarity or urgency of the questions raised;
the importance of the matter;
the time reasonably expended by this firm on your file;
the place(s) where and the circumstances in which your business is pursued;
if property or money is involved, its value or amount and;
the quantity and importance of any documents involved.
(C) We do not operate a percentage system. Indeed such a system is illegal.
(D) Some legal work will also be undertaken on a fixed fee agreed in advance with you in which case the amount agreed will be referred to in the covering letter with this document.
It is important however, to remember that where a fixed fee is quoted, the fee covers only the specific task assigned. Additional tasks assigned are charged usually at our hourly rate. In the event that there are any complications or unforeseen circumstances giving rise to additional work then such additional work will be billed at the rates specified in paragraph 4 (A) ( or such revised fees as are applicable at the time the additional work is undertaken) in addition to the fee quoted.
5. Bill of Costs:
We agree that, as soon as practicable after the conclusion of your case, we will give you a bill of costs setting out:
(a) a summary of the legal services provided to you in connection with the matter;
(b) in litigation cases, the total amount of damages or other monies recovered by you in respect of the matter;
(c) in litigation cases, details of all or any part of the charges which have been recovered by our Firm on your behalf from your opponent (being the “Party and Party costs”) ;
(d) We shall show separately the fees, outlays, disbursements and expenses incurred or arising.
Please remember that you have an absolute right to have our firm’s charges independently arbitrated upon by a Court officer should you feel unhappy with them.
Please refer to the Law Society Leaflet “Information in relation to legal charges” available upon request.
6. In Litigation cases what happens to your compensation cheque?
Upon successful conclusion of your claim, you may expect your compensation cheque to arrive within three to six weeks. At that stage, the legal costs and outlay bill will not have been finalised for various reasons, for example, witnesses who were involved with your claim may not yet have submitted their accounts or, your file may have been sent to a “Legal Cost Accountant” for preparation of the Bill of Costs. Usually, the larger the claim, the longer it will take to finalise the costs liability of the unsuccessful party. For this reason we can only give an approximate estimate of the contribution to the Bill of Costs that the Insurance Company or Defendant will be obliged to make (i.e. “the party and party costs”). Therefore we will retain from your compensation cheque an amount which we estimate will be sufficient to meet your liability for any additional costs due on a “Solicitor and Client” basis as described above. Therefore, when the settlement cheque arrives you will be given the following options:-
(a) You may lodge with us a Cheque Bank Draft for the estimated amount of “Solicitor
and Client” costs and we will release your settlement cheque to you or;
(b) In some instances it may be possible for you to endorse the back of the
settlement cheque whereupon it will be lodged to our client account and, when
the cheque clears, the estimated amount due for Solicitor and Client costs shall
be deducted and the balance may be paid out to you from our client account;
(c ) If there are no “Solicitor and Client” charges to be deducted from your compensation cheque, the cheque will be released directly to you.
Once the liability of the Defendant or Insurance Company is determined by the Court Official or by agreement with our Cost Accountant or ourselves, we will issue the final account and any surplus funds held will be reimbursed to you or any shortfall remaining outstanding will have to be discharged by you then.
On signing of our terms of engagement, you agree to the above proposals for discharge of your costs liability (if any). You also agree to any compensation cheque issued in your name being held by us until you discharge your liability for legal costs.
Please note that should you have any disagreement over the amount of costs being charged for the work done, you have the right to have your file referred to the County Registrar (if your claim was taken in the Circuit Court ) or the Taxing Master (if your claim was taken in the High Court) for the purpose of having the costs reviewed and an independent assessment of what costs are fair and reasonable.
7. What is a “Legal Cost Accountant”?
If the Insurance Company or unsuccessful party to your litigation is not willing to make a satisfactory contribution towards the Bill of Costs in your case, we reserve the option to refer the Bill to the County Registrar or Taxing Master of the High Court being the person duly appointed to measure costs in default of agreement. A Firm of Legal Cost Accountants will be employed by us to prepare a Bill of Costs and serve it on the
Insurance Company or Defendant or their Solicitors and obtain a hearing before the relevant Court Official. Professional fees plus VAT and Stamp Duty and minor outlays will become payable to the Legal Cost Accountant in connection with this exercise. As these costs and outlays are not recoverable from the unsuccessful litigant, they will be your liability and you will be obliged to reimburse us for these expenditures. We will endeavour to avoid having to engage a Legal Cost Accountant if at all possible and shall keep you appraised of developments in this regard.
8. When do the fees become payable?
In most cases the fees become payable when the work is substantially complete. In litigation cases the fees are payable as described in paragraph 6 above. In conveyancing (i.e. sale or purchase of a property) fees and outlays are payable on the closing date. Some of these fees are estimated amounts and in due course when the final amounts are ascertained you will be furnished with an Invoice and either a cheque will issue to you in respect of any surplus funds held in the client account or alternatively you will be required to discharge any shortfall on the Invoice. This situation will apply to most other legal tasks undertaken on your behalf unless otherwise advised. Please note that the title to a property may take twelve months or more after the closing date to register in the Land Registry for a variety of reasons outside our control. Only when the registration is completed will we be in a position to issue the final Invoice as frequently the Land Registry may require additional searches to be undertaken or other expenditures to be incurred before registration will be effected.
IF YOU HAVE ANY QUERIES WITH REGARD TO THE ABOVE OR ANY ISSUES IN RELATION TO COSTS PLEASE DO NOT HESITATE TO CONTACT US FOR CLARIFICATION.
So why not get a no obligation fixed fee quote now. You could save a lot of money. If you have questions, why not call or email us now without obligation and we will be happy to answer your queries without charge.
No solicitor/client relationship or duty of care or liability of any nature shall exist or be deemed to exist between O’Shea Legal and you until you have received confirmation in writing from us in which we confirm our appointment as your Solicitors.
*In contentious business a solicitor may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage or proportion of any award or settlement.
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The Executors Guide - 'At last a step by step guide, composed in plain english, for the executor or administrator who chooses not to employ a solicitor. This book contains invaluable advice and tips on how to get the difficult task of winding up an estate of a deceased person done as quickly as possible avoiding the traps for the unwary. It covers all the steps from the grave to the final distribution of the estate. It can save the estate thousands of euro in legal fees'