What can you do about inadequate legal costs advice in litigation?
One of the most common questions we as lawyers are asked is, “How much will it cost?” It’s an understandable question and if you are buying a house or making a Will it is generally very easy to answer. However, when it comes to litigation, where a solicitor has very limited control on what can happen, it can become less straightforward to answer, and requires a range of factors to be taken into consideration.
Underlying everything is the solicitor’s duty to consider the most suitable method of funding the litigation for you. Here are just some of the points that a solicitor is required to consider:
- Is the fee arrangement suitable for your needs? Does it take into account your best interests?
- Is the expense justified and proportionate to the claim?
- What is your likely liability for another party’s legal fees? Is insurance available to cover them if you lose? and
- Are there alternative methods of funding? For instance, ‘before the event’ insurance, conditional fee agreements, and after the event insurance?
You should be given the best information about costs both at the outset of the case and throughout its course about the likely overall cost.
Unfortunately, many solicitors fail these basic requirements. Some examples include:
- Failing to consider a change in your financial circumstances, meaning you may be eligible for public funding;
- Failing to consider whether your case would be more suitable (or becomes suitable) for a Conditional Fee Agreement. While your solicitor has no obligation to offer you one, he should advise you of their availability;
- Failing to advise on After the Event Insurance – either failing to give consideration to the possibility of obtaining cover or not getting sufficient cover; and
- Failing to keep you abreast on a regular basis of your own costs liability.
We cannot assist you in challenging the amount of your legal costs – that usually needs to be dealt with by way of detailed assessment – but if the different options of funding were not discussed with you or appropriate insurance was not obtained then you may have a professional negligence claim we can help you with.