- The client shall pay Morris and Co solicitors at the rate of £217.00 an hour for a solicitor, £170.00 an hour for a Paralegal/Legal Executive/Trainee. This shall change each year and shall be the rate until 1.1.21 at which point the rate will increase to £225 per hour and on the 1.1.22 the rate will increase to £235 per hour.
- The client agrees to pay money on account as requested so that there are sufficient sums on account available to do work, to attend hearings, conferences, attending Counsel, for payment of Court fees, for travel fees etc. The client agrees and understands that if they do not pay the money on account that Morris and Co Solicitors can determine to cease work at their absolute discretion.
- The client agrees that Morris and Co solicitors shall not be responsible for incurring disbursements without money on account.
- The client agrees that Morris and Co solicitors shall not have to attend any Court hearings unless they have paid sufficient money on account for a representative of Morris and Co solicitors or Counsel to attend and be paid in full.
- The client agrees to pay all invoices within 7 days of receiving any invoice.
- The client agrees to pay interest at 8% per annum on any sums not paid within 7 days of rendering an invoice.
- The client agrees that if Morris and Co solicitors has made a deduction from a bill of their own volition that if the client does not pay the reduced bill or indeed any other bill within 7 days of receipt that the bill will be reinstated to the original figure automatically as it is a term of the contract that any deduction is made on the basis that the clients pay all bills within 7 days of receipt.
- The client agrees to sign a litigant in person form on request and if they refuse to do so or sign such a form they give Morris and co solicitors permission to sign such a form on their behalf, if Morris and co determine to do so at their absolute discretion. They also give permission for Morris and Co solicitors to fill in any blanks on such a form including the date if any sum of money on account requested by Morris and Co solicitors is not paid and to lodge the litigant in person form with the court.
- The client agrees to provide a copy of their driving licence and/or their passport within 7 days of this agreement. They also agree to provide a copy of a bank statement and a bill for money laundering purposes within 7 days of any request being made.
- The client agrees on signing of this agreement to written consent to any credit reference agency to undertake a credit search against them.
- The client agrees not to ask Morris and Co solicitors to do work if they do not have the funds to pay them. In the event that this occurs they agree to pay court fees, the costs of enforcement of the outstanding bills and interest.
- The client agrees that in the event that they cannot pay a bill or a request for payment on account that they will notify Nicholas Morris and that they will discuss matters with Mr Morris in a reasonable way and to try to enter into a sensible payment plan.
- The client will inform Mr Nicholas Morris if they intend to become bankrupt or enter into an IVA.
- The client agrees that they are only entitled to the first half hour free if this has been agreed by Morris and Co in advance in writing. The client agrees that they cannot demand a free half hour interview unless this is agreed in writing in advance of any meeting. Half hour free interviews are only offered in limited circumstances and only if agreed in writing in advance. You will not be entitled to a free half hour interview if you have already had a free half hour interview anywhere else. This offer is only available to those who spend more than a £1000 including Vat for Morris and Co’s legal services
TRAVEL AND WAITING
- The client agrees to pay petrol expenses at 0.58 pence per mile.
- The client agrees to pay travel costs, taxis, train fares and underground fares incurred by Morris and Co solicitors.
- The client agrees to pay VAT on travelling expenses.
- The client agrees to pay the hourly rate for travel and waiting at £217.00 per hour plus VAT.
ATTENDANCE AT COURT
- The client agrees that time will be charged at £217.00 per hour plus VAT whether or not sitting behind Counsel.
ATTENDANCE AND PREPARATION
- The client agrees that this will be charged at £217.00 per hour plus VAT.
- In circumstances where a lot of photocopying e.g. trial bundles, directions bundles, Form E’s etc has to be undertaken the client agrees to pay for photocopying at 10 pence per copy.
- All sums payable under this agreement unless otherwise stated are exclusive of VAT and other duties. Any VAT or other duties or taxes payable in respect of such sums shall be payable in addition to them.
LETTERS AND TELEPHONE CALLS
- It is agreed that these will be charged according to how long they take and the client accepts that the minimum fee is charged on a 6-minute unit.
- The client agrees to pay for reading time of any incoming letters and emails at a minimum 6-minute unit at £217.00 per hour even though this may not be recoverable on costs from the opponent. The client accepts that they will be responsible for payment of this.
HOURS OF WORK
- The solicitors normally work from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday but are unavailable between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. The solicitors however go on holiday each year and the office closes from the 23 December at 12 noon to the first working day after New Year whichever is the later. From time to time it is necessary for the solicitor to go to Court or attend other clients at their homes or in hospital and he will not be available when he does so. The client confirms that they understand this and also understand and accept that a solicitor is entitled to holiday.
- The client understands that the office is not open at weekends.
- The client understands that litigation is both expensive and time consuming and that if they lose the case or any point or any application then the Court has power at its discretion to order that a party has to pay costs.
- The client understands that any legal opinion whether given by a solicitor or Counsel is only an opinion and that the Court may reach a different opinion. The client understands that in entering Court proceedings that the ultimate decision maker will be a Judge in a Court room. The client accepts that there can be no guarantee of success. The solicitor is not paid for success but rather for legal representation. If you lose you will still have to pay all costs incurred, including your own.
- The client accepts that a Judge may order that any party pay costs at the discretion of the Judge. This may mean that even if the clients win that they may not order all or any of the client’s costs to be paid and indeed it is common for only a portion depending on the case to be ordered. The client understands that you never get back the full costs and that costs are at the discretion of the Courts and you often back considerably less than you pay. In family cases the parties generally pay their own costs but costs are at the discretion of the Court or Tribunal and if the client pursues bad points or proceeds on points when unnecessary and if the client loses applications this can result in costs orders.
- The client understands that if he loses a point that if the Court considers this point to be taken without merit that costs can be ordered against the client even in cases where costs are not normally ordered. The discretion is entirely with the Judge or Court or Tribunal.
- The client agrees that costs estimates are approximate and that if the client requires a solicitor to continue to do work after a costs estimate is exceeded that they will continue to pay at the hourly rate stated above
- The client understands that if they act unreasonably that costs consequences could follow. This includes exaggerating claims, pursuing or defending points, allegations or issues that the Court does not approve of, conducting themselves inappropriately, falling to follow Practice Directions etc. If this occurs your costs could increase above the costs estimate and you could be ordered to pay the other sides costs.
- The client accepts that it is normal in civil litigation for the loser to pay the winners costs subject to assessment at the Courts discretion but that:-
(a) The Court can order the payment of costs in any event or to be reserved on any point.
(b) The Court can order costs to be paid when somebody has lost a point or has been unfair or unreasonable.
(c) The Court has a wide discretion on costs.
(d) The Court can order no costs to be paid at all.
(e) The court can order that only a part of the cost is returned.
- The client accepts that they have been advised to consider mediation, alternative dispute resolution and other types of settlement and that if a client fails to consider going to mediation or alternative dispute resolution the Court can order costs against them.
- In Employment cases and/or private child cases costs are almost never ordered but there can be issues of costs where a person acts, in a way that the Court does not approve.
- Costs can be incurred if points are lost or on some occasions or if you fail to consider reasonable offers being made by the other side.
- In the event that the other party is ordered to pay costs you have to pay our costs in the first instance and then if you instruct us to do so and we receive sufficient money on account we will seek to enforce costs.
- The Solicitor, fee earners and the secretary both go on holiday and the client fully accepts that this will be the case and agrees not to object to them taking holidays or days off.
- The Solicitor and Legal Executive also have to undertake courses each year. The client has no objection to them being unavailable during this period.
- The client also accepts and understands that the person undertaking their work will be absent from the office whilst attending other work, working for other clients, attending Court, attending conferences etc. The client agrees that it is a normal part of a Solicitor or Legal Executives daily life for this to happen and agrees that they will not expect unreasonable levels of service.
- The office phone number runs over to Mr Morris’s mobile and if he is out of the office, if you hold it will run through and he will where possible accept the call. He cannot do so if he is in court or at a conference, or with other client’s. Hence, where possible please correspond by e-mail.
- The client agrees that in the event that they require in the judgement of Nicholas Morris unreasonable levels of service that Mr Morris is entitled to terminate the retainer.
- The fee earner dealing with your matter will be from time to time ill as is the nature of human beings. The client agrees that the fee earner will get back to him/her when fit to do so upon his return to the office.
- The fee earner undertaking the case will be Mr Nicholas Morris unless you are notified otherwise. He is a solicitor of great experience having qualified in 1991.
- In relation to all work we are unable to give a quote for the work until we have seen the papers and have taken some instructions. We will then issue a client care letter providing a estimate. This will be an estimate only as we do not have a crystal ball and we cannot predict the way that a case will develop over a period of time. We do not offer a half hour free unless agreed in writing first.
- We do not offer a fixed quote service unless agreed in writing.
- You will be responsible for all disbursements that occur. Each case will incur different disbursements. Court fees change regularly from time to time and can be determined by examining HM Court service website and by looking at Form EX50. You will need to look at the .gov.uk site. In respect of transcribers, accountants fees, surveyors fees, actuarial fees and other experts reports their fees vary depending on the work we need them to do. We will obtain a estimate or quote but you are responsible for their fees that have to be paid in advance before the work is done. We are not a bank and we do not pay fees for you and give you credit, unless we agree to this.
- The costs rules are contained within the Civil Procedure Rules which can be accessed online and are also contained within various other rules and regulations which you must obey.
- Conditional fees and damaged based agreements can be made available by agreement between the parties but the terms will vary depending upon the nature of the case.
- We can offer in certain cases subject to our discretion an arrangement for Legal fees to be paid through Novitas but you will need to fill in their forms provide the relevant information and get approval from them.
- Family cases vary considerably as do Children cases. For court fees please see EX50, and a basic divorce, not the main suit costs in the region of £1500 to £2000 plus Vat. This will go up if personal service or applications to the court are needed. A children’s case can cost as little as £2500 plus Vat and as much as £45,000 plus VAT, plus Counsels fees, plus court fees. We will provide an estimate. An Ancillary relief case varies considerably depending upon the parties, their behaviour and the assets. It is often highly difficult to give specific quotes as some people can argue about what are small issues against advice, some people are reasonable and others are not, some cases have modest assets and others have complex issues to resolve. However, as a rough guide average costs are about £12000 and the range is £3000 to £60,000 plus Vat, plus Counsels fees, plus Vat, plus disbursements. We will provide an estimate of costs, once we know details of the case. Although costs do not often occur in family cases they can be ordered if you do not comply with court orders or you act unreasonably. Costs are at the discretion of the court and where the court considers that you have to pay costs the court can order this.
- Personal Injury and Debt Recovery costs vary considerably from case to case. You will be notified about costs in a separate letter for your case. We are not a budget debt collection firm. We offer a bespoke service in each case you will be given a estimate when we know the exact details of your case. Some cases can be dealt with at a very low level say £1500 to £3000 plus VAT. Other cases may cost £15,000 to £40,000 plus VAT plus Counsels fees plus court fees plus disbursements and some difficult cases can be as much as £100,000 plus Vat, plus Counsels fees plus disbursements. An Average is say £18,000.00. It is fairly obvious that the costs relating to a serious brain injury will be more than a minor injury. Once you give us details of your case, we can assess the amount of your costs. The reality is we cannot be specific about the amount of your costs until we know something about it. In debt collection work you will be required to pay as you incur costs and to provide money on account. In Personal Injury cases you will be required to agree to the terms of this contract and if an uplift is to be required, we will confirm this in writing and you will be required to sign an agreement which will vary from case to case, but will be subject to court rules. No win no fee arrangements are available by agreement in writing.
- In relation to employment cases the costs vary widely. Some cases can be dealt with at an hourly rate by way of a settlement agreement. In the case of a settlement agreement an employer may make an offer to pay a contribution towards costs. This is simply a contribution and you will pay at the hourly rate. If you come in with a settlement agreement most cases can be done provided no alterations re required by you for between £500 and £1500 plus vat. The more complicated cases cost nearer £1500 to £3000 plus vat. To take a case to the employment Tribunal is an average of say £15,000 but these vary between £5000 and £35,000 plus vat plus Counsels fees and disbursements.
- All costs estimates, are only estimates. It is impossible to predict every way a case can go. At first a case may seem simple but become more complicated. Furthermore, if you chose to argue points which are not reasonable to argue or if you enter into correspondence which is inflammatory or you undertake any action which causes costs to increase they will increase and any costs estimate is made on the basis that you act reasonably at all times. If Morris and co are misled about the case or if you make any representations to the court that are not true then costs estimates will automatically increase as a consequence and the original costs estimate will not apply.
PART 36 AND CALDERBANK OFFERS
- If the other side make an offer this must be considered. If ultimately you fail to beat the other side’s offer the Court can order you to pay the other side’s costs and make costs penalties and may add interest. There are punitive costs for failing to beat a Part 36 offer, a Calderbank offer, an open offer or indeed any offer whatsoever.
SOLICITORS REGULATION AUTHORITY
- Morris and Co solicitors are authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. The firm’s number is 404419 and Mr Morris’s number is 150172
- In the event of a complaint being made it is to be drawn to the attention of Mr Nicholas Morris, in writing.
- Mr Morris will consider the matter and will try to respond within 14 days but may need additional time due to holidays, sickness or if the matter is complicated. He will however respond within 28 days in all but the most complex matters. He may need to ask the professional ethics branch of the SRA, the SRA generally or the Law Society, or Counsel about matters on occasions and if this results in a delay you will be informed.
- You will then be asked to respond within 14 days.
- A meeting will be offered on a date to be arranged or a reply within be made in writing within 14 days (except where practically impossible such as holidays).
- The complaint will be properly and reasonably considered.
- Mr Morris will endeavor to agree a reasonable course of action with the complainant.
- Mr Morris will otherwise offer an appeal against any decision he makes, at his discretion.
- In the event that it is not possible to resolve the complaint then the client is to be referred to the Legal Ombudsman.
LEGAL OMBUDSMAN AND THE SRA
- We wish to give you the best possible service. However, if at any point you become unhappy or concerned about our service you should use the above complaints procedure. If you remain unhappy the client has the right to complain to the Legal Ombudsman. Their address is PO Box 6806, Wolverhampton, WV1 9WJ. Their phone number is 03005550333. Their e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Their web page is http://legalombudsman.org.uk. Before accepting a complaint the Legal Ombudsman will check to see whether you have tried to resolve your complaint with us first. If you have tried this then you must bring your complaint to the Ombudsman within six months of receiving a final response to your complaint and no more than six years from the date of act/commission; or no more than three years from when you should reasonably have known there was cause for complaint.
- The Solicitors Regulation Authority can help if you are concerned about our behaviour. This could be things like dishonesty, taking or losing money or treating you unfairly because of your age, a disability or other characteristic.(web page: Solicitors Regulation Authority (consumers/problems/report-solicitor))
- The client is responsible for the payment of Court fees that vary from time to time.
- The client will note that the Solicitors Act 1974 allows certain applications to the Court in respect of income.
a) You have the right to apply to the Court for an Order that any invoice may be assessed (i.e. checked by an officer of the Court) but you should note that you may lose your right to do this unless you make an application to the Court within one month of receipt of this invoice.
b) Alternatively, in non-contentious matters, you have the right to require us to obtain from the Law Society a certificate stating that, in their opinion, the amount claimed by us is fair and reasonable, or as the case may be, what other sum would be fair and reasonable. You should note that your right to do this will be lost unless you make the request to us within one month of the receipt of this invoice. You should also note in exercising this right unless we hold full money to cover this you must first pay half our fee and all the disbursements and VAT shown in this invoice. This requirement may be waived where you can show us or the Law Society that exceptional circumstances apply to your case.
c) Full details of these rights are set out in Article 4 of the Solicitors Remuneration( non-contentious business) Order 1994
d) Article 14(1) of the Solicitors Remuneration Order 1994 provides that after the expiration of one month, from the delivery of an invoice for non-contentious costs, we may, under certain circumstances, charge interest on the amount thereof at the rate which is from time to time prescribed for judgement debts under Section 44 of the Administration of Justice Act 1970. We reserve our right to do this.
e) There are powers to ask the court to detail assess solicitors bills contained in Sections 70, 71 and 72 of the Solicitors Act 1974.
- You agree to pay money on account before we instruct Counsel.
- Counsel’s clerk will on most occasions inform us of Counsels fees. If however they do so they can sometimes charge a greater fee later if more work has to be done. You agree to be responsible for any sums Counsel charge if instructed.
- If Counsel’s clerk refuses to give a fee without seeing the brief then the solicitor may still require you to pay an estimated sum and may require the balance before Counsel does the work or may ask for this later.
- The client accepts that they have to comply with Court orders and that they know that if they do not do so that they may have to pay the other side’s costs. Alternatively, the Court has a range of sanctions including not allowing evidence to be heard which is served late. This includes Witness Statements. By signing this you acknowledge your obligation to provide us with all papers, monies on account in order to undertake the work.
YOUR OBLIGATION TO US AND THE COURT
- You agree by signing this to act in an honest manner towards Morris & Co and to the Court. You also agree that you will deal with correspondence promptly and that you will not withhold relevant documents and that you will comply with Court Orders and will give solicitors documents in advance in enough time to deal with the case.
- By signing this document, you the client will agree to look at the Court Order in matrimonial cases and provide all Form E documents at least 14 days before the date that a Form E has to be lodged so that it can be drafted in time.