Overcharged by your solicitor?
You may be entitled to a refund
Free No Obligation Advice
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Challenging the bill from your solicitor can be a stressful and often complicated process. But we are here to help.
Sometimes it is not obvious that you have been overcharged. Where you have a “no win no fee” agreement a deduction may have been made from your compensation up to a maximum cap, often 25% or sometimes higher. But just because a reduction has been agreed in principle the solicitor cannot always just deduct the maximum cap at the end of a successful case. All too often this is what happens which has resulted in a vast number of Clients being overcharged. For more information see the link below.
If you would like us to review your Solicitor’s bill we can do so free of charge. If we feel you have been overcharged we will advise you on what you can do. We may be able to offer you a no win no fee agreement to challenge the bill. Also at the same time we will review free of charge whether the amount of compensation awarded was a fair sum (Click Here for more information).
If we feel that the Solicitor has done everything correctly, then at least you have the peace of mind of knowing this, and it will not have cost you anything for this second opinion.
If your solicitor acted under a no win no fee agreement in your personal injury claim then that agreement is likely to contain a cap of 25% on the fees that can be charged. But that does not mean that in every case 25% should be deducted. This is a maximum amount.
This agreement charges an hourly rate. But to reflect the level of risk the lawyer is taking on, that hourly rate is enhanced by a “success fee”, which is a percentage increase on that normal hourly rate. So the lawyer is paid more per hour for taking the risk of not getting paid at all, but subject to an overall cap on the maximum sum that can be charged, usually 25% of your compensation.
Many solicitors deliberately set the hourly rate high, and much higher than the hourly rate the court would allow you to recover from your opponent and they charge you the shortfall. If they have not explained to you what charges are likely to be recoverable from your opponent then this shortfall can be challenged.
The enhancement to the hourly rate (the success fee) remains payable by you, but is primarily meant to reflect the risk of losing the case, although it is permissible to charge a small percentage for other factors. But if this is the case the agreement must say so.
By law the success fee cannot be charged at more than 100% of the normal hourly rate. Many solicitors charge 100% in every case. If the success fee is not a proper reflection of the actual risk in your case then this can be challenged. A 100% success fee solely for the risk of losing, is only appropriate where the chance of success is 50/50. If you have an 80% chance of success the success fee to reflect that should only be 25% and if charged more than that it can be challenged.
Finally there are legal requirements that must be met to ensure the agreement itself is a valid agreement. If those requirements are not met the agreement is unenforceable and the solicitor cannot charge you anything at all.
You have an absolute right to challenge a bill through the courts if you apply within 1 month of delivery of the solicitor’s final bill.
Between 1 month and a year the court has a discretion whether to permit you to challenge the bill, but will usually permit you to do so.
After a year there is an absolute bar on challenging the bill if it has been paid.
But the above time limits only start to run if the bill itself complies with certain legal requirements. If it does not you will have the right to call for a revised bill that does comply and the time limits then start to run.
For instance at the conclusion of a personal injury claim many solicitors just send you a bill charging you 25% of the compensation. What they should do is present you with a bill that shows the total amount of work charged, gives credit for any sums received from your opponent so you can see whether the balance being charged is more or less than the agreed cap. It is not appropriate to just send you a bill for 25%. If that has happened you are entitled to call for a full bill and the time limits to challenge the bill will not start until they do.
It is also possible to apply to court for an order that they send you a proper bill if they refuse.
We can help you with all of this. We can review the bill free of charge. At the same time we can also review whether the compensation you have received is fair (for more information click here). If we believe the bill can be challenged we will offer you a no win no fee agreement.
We offer a free service to review your solicitor’s bill. To access our free service click here.
The starting point is to ask the solicitors to reconsider their fees. Often when a challenge is made the solicitors are prepared to discuss matters and an amicable reduction can be agreed. If they refuse to do so then an application must be made to the Court to have the bill assessed by the court to decide whether the fees are reasonable. The Court will order an assessment to be carried out. The solicitors will then be required to prepare a very detailed bill setting out exactly what work was done and each stage, who did it, and how long it all took and what has been charged for each part of the bill. The next stage is we prepare a response to the bill setting out which parts are disputed and why. The solicitors then review that and then there is a further opportunity for them to either accept our arguments and negotiate a refund, or alternatively they do a reply explaining why they reject our arguments. Following this procedure if there is no amicable settlement the court will list the matter for a hearing so the court can make a ruling on whether there should be a refund and if so how much. We offer a free service to review your solicitor’s bill. To access our free service click here.
You may be entitled to a refund
You have nothing to lose