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Information relating to Debt Recovery up to the value of £100,000It is very important that a party to a claim or dispute does not underestimate the important role that costs play in decision making in a case and how it is resolved. Costs are key. Parties are required by the Courts to act proportionately in resolving their dispute, with specific regard to costs.
How and what we charge
Most often we charge for our disputes and litigation services on the basis of the time we spend on a case. Our rates are reviewed annually (1 May) and may vary during the course of the case. You will be notified of changes to our rates.
The applicable hourly rate or rates will depend on the experience, expertise and seniority of the lawyer or lawyers assigned to the case and may be affected by the character, significance, risk, value or complexity of the matter. The range of our basic hourly rates for disputes and litigation work is currently £170.00 per hour to £350.00 per (plus VAT).
Some routine administrative expenses we incur in the course of a case will be included in our hourly rates (e.g. telephone charges). Where such expenses are not routine and are specific to a case however (e.g. The cost of searches, court or tribunal fees, photocopying charges for substantial paper bundles for a hearing or travel expenses), these expenses will be charged to you as an additional cost.
Where it is beneficial for us to engage someone else on your behalf to assist on a case (e.g. specialist Counsel or advocate, an electronic data specialist, an agent, an expert witness, a mediator or a process server), then their fees and expenses will also be charged to you as an additional cost (if they are not being paid by you directly to the person concerned).
We recognise the importance to clients of being able to budget for costs where possible, so where we can and is appropriate, we may undertake specific individual tasks for fixed amounts (see below). However, fixed costs will rarely be appropriate for work that is subject to contingencies, high levels of uncertainty or for correspondence that develops over time.
Factors affecting the level of costs you incur
No one case is the same and there are many factors that can affect the level of our charges and the expenses incurred in a case. The following are examples:
- The factual and legal complexity of the case
- The nature and volume of evidence (eg the amount of electronic data involved)
- The number of parties involved in the claim
- Whether your opponent can be located
- Whether your opponent is legally represented
- How people react to a step in the case
- Whether a legal proceeding is required, and if so which
- The nature of the remedy or remedies being sought (thus, the type of proceeding)
- Whether the proceeding is defended
- The efficiency of the Court or Tribunal involved
- How easy it is to be able to obtain information, evidence or assistance required for the case
- Information which may come to light during the course of proceedings or other issues or complications that may arise
- The involvement of an insurer or litigation funder in a case
- Decisions of the Court or Tribunal in relation to the management of the case
- The number and length of hearings
- Challenges or appeals that may be made in the course of the case
- How protracted the case may be, for example, whether settled before trial (concluded in the short term) or if enforcement action is required (concluded in the long term)
The rules of the English civil justice system (the Civil Procedure Rules or CPR) require the parties to a dispute to take certain steps before commencing formal Court proceedings – to exchange information and explain their positions in relation to the case (including willingness to negotiate). These requirements will affect the point at which you incur costs (they tend towards earlier rather than later expenditure), however they are intended to encourage early settlement and save costs in the long run.
The costs of other parties and recovering your costs
It is important to understand that the cost to you of litigation or certain other legal proceedings (such as arbitration or adjudication) may not be confined to the charges you incur with us. You might have to pay some or the majority of your opponent’s costs for instance.
If litigation is required and the case proceeds to a trial or hearing, a losing party must normally expect to have to pay the costs of the winning party (these costs will generally include the pre-action costs) and it is rare for the winning party to recover all his or her costs from the losing party. A losing party will also remain responsible for his or her own costs.
If you are awarded your costs against another party, you may not be able to recover those costs if that party cannot pay them. Even if they can pay, if they are unwilling to do so you may have to engage us to take enforcement action. The costs of that work will add to the costs of the proceeding. If you are a business and are awarded your costs, it is also unlikely you will be able to recover from your opponent the VAT element of the costs charged to you.
We will provide detailed information on the costs principles of litigation, tribunal or other applicable procedure when you engage us on a case.
The level of costs generally and costs management in litigation
Given what we have explained, it will be clear that the total cost of a case we taken on can vary to a very high degree indeed. If the work involves a single item of work (e.g. a short letter of demand for a simple debt), then it may cost just a few hundred pounds. At the other end of the scale, an important and complex case that goes to trial and onto an appeal, could cost many hundreds of thousands of pounds and potentially more than that.
Many cases which go through the Civil Courts are now subject to costs management rules which require the parties to produce and agree budgets for the case and are intended to achieve proportionality. Where we take on a case which will be subject to the costs management rules, we will provide detailed advice on how those rules will apply. Our charges in a case that may be subject to costs management by the Court will include both the time we spend and expenses we incur for the process.
Your responsibility for our charges
Save in a rare case where we act under a ‘conditional fee agreement’ (under which our charges will be payable if and when ‘success’ has been achieved in the case), responsibility for the payment of our charges is not affected by the outcome of the case nor by the other party being directed or agreeing or being able to pay your costs.
If you have legal expenses insurance
If you have insurance for legal costs you incur in relation to the case (either ‘before the event’ insurance or where you obtain ‘after the event’ insurance), unless the hourly rates of charge to be paid by the insurer are agreed with them, you will remain responsible to pay that element of our charges which is not recoverable from the insurer.
Cases where we may agree to fix some of our charges in advance
As indicated, there are certain types of case where the work involved may be more predictable than others and may be suitable for agreeing fixed fees with you for specific aspects. Those claims include undisputed Debt Claims. An illustrative scheme of costs for our services for such claims for businesses can be found below.
Debt Claims for Businesses
1. Many Debt Claims can be made (with or without legal assistance) by using Money Claims Online. This is a gateway for issuing a Court Claim for sums under £100,000. See:
2. If you are a business making a Debt Claim against an individual (which would include a sole trader), before you commence a Court Claim you need to follow a procedure prescribed by law. See:
3. Where a Debt Claim proceeds through the English Courts system (including the online system) it will be assigned to one of three ‘Tracks’, depending on its total value (disregarding interest). Each Track has its own Rules and procedures (the higher value claims having a more sophisticated procedure than lower value claims). The Tracks are currently:
- Small Claims Track – Not more than £10,000
- Fast Track – Over £10,000 but not more than £25,000
- Multi-Track – Over £25,000.
Where there is a dispute over a Debt, before you commence a Court Claim you need to follow a procedure prescribed by law. See:
An illustration of our charges for Debt Claims for Businesses
We do not undertake cases for a total fixed charge as experience shows that even undisputed Claims can take an unpredictable course. If the Claim is defended, then your costs will inevitably be much higher.
For proportionality however and to assist business clients in achieving as much certainty of cost as we can reasonably help with, commonly we may agree to undertake a specific individual task or tasks in a Debt Claim up to £25000 in value for a fixed amount or amounts that we agree with you in advance. These fixed amounts may not cover all our work on the Claim. For all work on a Claim that we do not agree to undertake for a fixed charge, you can expect our charges to be based on the time we spend on the work.
By way of illustration: In case where the debt is straightforward and undisputed, we may do the following specific individual tasks for the amounts stated:
Debts of not more than £10,000 (The Small Claims Track Procedure)
||£250.00 plus VAT
||£300-£500 plus VAT
||£250.00-£400.00 plus VAT
||£150.00 plus VAT
The above task charges may not be the total charge you would incur with us on the Claim. If you instruct us on an undisputed Debt Claim in the Small Claims Track, typically the total charges you might incur with us (excluding any enforcement action which might be required) would be in a range of £950.00 and £1,300.00 plus VAT and any additional costs we may have to incur on your behalf.
The Small Claims procedure for recovering low value debts is intended to be used without legal representation. Under the applicable Court rules, unless the debtor has agreed to indemnify you for your debt recovery costs under your terms of business (they can then be added to the claim amount), the charges you incur with us on a Small Claim will not be recoverable from the debtor.
Claims of over £10,000 but not more than £25,000 (The Fast Track procedure)
||£350.00-£750.00 plus VAT
||£350.00-£750.00 plus VAT
||£750.00-£1,000.00 plus VAT
||£200.00 plus VAT
The above task charges may not be the total charge you would incur with us on the Claim. If you instruct us on an undisputed Debt Claim in the Fast Track, typically the total charges you might incur with us (excluding any enforcement action which might be required) will be in a range of £1,650.00-£2,700 plus VAT and any additional costs we may have to incur on your behalf.
Unless the debtor has agreed to indemnify you for your debt recovery costs under your terms, for proportionality, the Fast Track Court procedure includes rules which limit recoverable costs. Whilst we make every effort to ensure that we manage our involvement in a case to minimise costs, we are not in a position to fix our charges to those which may be recoverable in a case.
Claims over £25,000 (The Multi-Track Procedure)
Where we are instructed on Debt Claims for amounts exceeding £25,000, you can expect our charges to be based on the time we spend on the case. We may well be willing to agree a fixed fee for a task or tasks required in such claims, however, whether this is appropriate and what the fee may be will vary depending on the circumstances of the case as the procedural demands of a higher value claim tend to be greater.
If you instruct us on an undisputed Debt Claim in the Multi-track, typically the total charges you might incur with us (excluding any enforcement action which might be required) will be in a range of £2,500.00-£4,000.00 plus VAT plus additional costs we may incur on your behalf.
Other important information about the above illustrations and generally
The illustrations we have provided concern our charges for Claims against debtors in England and Wales. Where a Debt Claim may need to be pursued in another jurisdiction we would expect to have to involve a local lawyer in the jurisdiction concerned and charges will vary considerably.
So that you are clear on the work included and not included in the above illustrations for undisputed Debt Claims of the values indicated:
- Taking instructions from you, considering papers provided, public record searches, producing a Letter of Demand or Claim, producing a Claim Form and Particulars of Claim, issuing the Claim in Court, and applying for Judgment in Default.
- Detailed advice on the merits of the Debt Claim, work arising from incomplete instructions or where the matter is not straightforward.
- Any tasks arising from the Debtor disputing the Debt Claim (this illustration relates to undisputed debts): Entering into correspondence with the Debtor where a debt is disputed or time to pay is requested, advising on any Defence that may be filed, negotiating terms with the Debtor either before or after proceedings have been issued, taking steps in proceedings for disputed debts (such as disclosure and inspection of documents, preparation and service of witness statements, dealing with expert evidence) and issuing applications within the course of proceedings.
- Taking any action to enforce a judgment.
- Where VAT applies, it will be charged at the applicable rate from time to time (presently 20%)
- The VAT element of our charges may not be reclaimable from your debtor.
- Amounts claimable for late payment by the debtor will increase the value of the Claim, which may affect the procedural track and therefore the applicable costs principles.
- A straightforward undisputed Debt Claim might commonly take ten to seventeen weeks from receipt of instructions from you to receipt of payment from the other side, depending on the time you are required to give the Debtor to respond to correspondence, whether or not it is necessary to issue a claim and the time it takes the Court Service to deal with matters. This assumes that debtor pays in full promptly on receipt of Judgment.
- If enforcement action is needed, the matter will take longer to resolve.
- You may commonly incur the following costs in making a Debt Claim:
- The court fees that are payable in each case will vary according to the value of the claim. The following is a link to the current applicable court fees: Form EX50 – Fees in the Civil and Family Courts
To view members of our team please view the Key Contacts section of our Debt Recovery page.
This is not intended to be a comprehensive list of the tasks involved in bringing or defending a claim.
Additional costs will include the applicable Court Fee
Additional costs will include the applicable Court Fee