Debt Recovery (up to £100,000)
As a general rule, our charges for all types of litigation and contentious work are calculated by reference to the amount of time we spend on the matter. Given the nature of such work, we do not normally work on a fixed fee, “no win-no fee”, or similar costs basis.
We charge for time in six-minute units. The current hourly rate which we apply to litigation and contentious work, including all types of debt recovery, ranges between £200 to £250 plus VAT depending on the level of fee earner involved in the matter. However, please contact us to explore whether the facts of your particular case mean that we are able to offer a reduced fee rate for any tasks which you would like us to carry out.
In addition to our fees, you may need to pay other fees when bringing or defending a claim, such as Court fees and barrister’s fees. When issuing a claim for money, the Court claim issue fee is based on the amount of the claim. For claims up to £10,000, the Court issue fee is based on a sliding scale of fixed fees. For claims above £10,000*, the issue fee is based on a % of the value of the claim (usually 5%). Further details of the current Court fees which apply may be found on the HM Courts & Tribunals Service website. Barrister’s fees are usually calculated on an hourly basis, and will depend on the level of barrister chosen and the work that is involved. *Note: different charges apply to claims above £200,000 in value.
The steps involved in a ‘debt recovery’ claim will depend on the facts of the particular case. Typically, however, the first step in the process involves sending a “letter of claim” to the debtor. This sets out the nature of the debt and includes a demand for payment. The letter will need to comply with the “Practice Direction – Pre-Action Conduct and Protocols”, and possibly also the “Pre-Action Protocol on Debt Claims” if the claim is by a business against an individual. As stated, our fees are calculated by reference to the time we spend on a matter. However, for this first stage, they are typically in the region of £200 to £400 plus VAT.
Depending on the debtor’s response (if any), it may then be appropriate to issue legal proceedings in an attempt to recover the monies owed. Again, there is no fixed fee for this stage. The fee will depend on the amount of time we spend on the matter. However, our fees for drafting and issuing a debt claim are typically in the region of £750 to £1,000 plus VAT (plus the Court claim issue fee). In more complex cases, it may be appropriate to instruct a barrister to draft the proceedings. Our costs thereafter will depend very much on the stance taken by the debtor, and whether they defend the claim. Such costs will be calculated by reference to the time we spend on the case. We will do our best, however, to provide you with an estimate of the overall costs going forward once we know what stance the debtor is taking.
With regard to the recovery of costs, for claims with a value up to £10,000 the general rule is that each side bears their own legal costs (although this rule may sometimes be displaced if there is a contractual right to recover costs). This means that even if you win, you cannot normally get your legal costs back. In most other cases, the general rule is that the losing party pays the winning party’s costs. An award of costs is, however, always in the discretion of the Court. It is also rare that a party obtains full recovery. Note that the VAT element on your legal costs cannot be recovered from your opponent if you are VAT registered.
Litigation is inherently risky and there can never be any guarantee of success. As mentioned, in the event you lose the case, you may be liable for payment of your opponent’s legal costs. The Court can also order a party to pay costs during the course of the proceedings (usually within 14 days) and if you do not pay you may not be allowed to continue bringing or defending the claim. It may be possible for you to obtain “After the Event” insurance to cover these risks, or third-party litigation funding. Please speak to the person dealing with your matter at this firm if you require further information about this.
It is always worth checking at the outset whether you have any legal expenses insurance (sometimes called “Before the Event” insurance) as you may already be able to obtain legal assistance in relation to your matter under that policy. Insurers often have their own panel of preferred solicitor firms. You may not, therefore, be able to obtain reimbursement of our fees without obtaining their approval prior to instructing us. You may also want to check whether you are already entitled to legal assistance through a trade union or other body. Your local Citizens Advice Bureau also offers free legal assistance.
Litigation and contentious work is dealt with at this firm by Mark Fairweather and/or James Patten. Mr Fairweather is a director of Fairweather Law Ltd and a solicitor. Mr Patten is a senior solicitor at the firm. Full contact details, together with details of their experience, can be found elsewhere on this website.