Price & Service Transparency Notice
The Solicitors Regulation Authority’s (SRA’s) Transparency Rules require us to provide transparency about our prices for particular types of work, including summary only motoring offences.
The particular manner in which issues of funding are addressed is first and foremost dependant on the stage of criminal investigation at which you find yourself. Essential information as to each stage is included below, however you are, of course, more than welcome to contact our offices directly if any further clarification is required.
Representation at the Police Station
You should be aware that you have the right to legal advice at any time (with limited exceptions) whilst you are in the Police Station, and we shall be happy to advise you at any time, day or night, should you require our assistance in this, or any other, police case.
Advice and assistance at the police Station is free of charge, in all circumstances.
During out of hours we operate a telephone deployment scheme. If you telephone the office, your call will be diverted to our deployment manager. If your call concerns an arrest, the deployment manager will immediately contact the first available police station representative to assist you. If your call is non-urgent, then we would ask that you contact the office during office hours only.
Legal Advice and Assistance (prior to charge)
Under the access to justice legislation, subject to your situation satisfying the “means” and “sufficient benefit” tests, you are entitled to advice and assistance initially subject to an upper limit of £300.00.
This limit can be extended by prior application to the Legal Services Commission if circumstances allow. You will be advised before this limit is extended and will not be charged for any excess work done without prior authority.
Advice and assistance may relate to matters involving the police investigation but cannot cover Court Proceedings.
In the event that your case is not deemed to meet either the “means” and “sufficient benefit” tests, then we may assist you on a privately paying basis.
Our charges for assisting you in relation to an ongoing police investigation would be on the basis of a fixed fee of £250 plus VAT (£300).
Representation at the Magistrates Court
Publicly funded representation in the Magistrates Court is now limited to those cases that can satisfy the “means” and “merits” tests. The “means” test relates to your financial eligibility whereas the “merits” test is dependant on whether the Legal Aid Agency determines that your case requires you to have the assistance of a Solicitor.
The Court initially refuse’s legal aid to anyone whose income after adjustments for dependants exceeds £22,325 (although further appeals on the grounds of hardship may be possible). Below this threshold, the Court performs a full means assessment and those with a disposable income of more than £3,270 per annum after calculations of income and outgoings, do not qualify for free representation.
Having observed the industry for many years it is our opinion that asking Clients to pay for our services on an hourly basis is problematic. You don’t know how much you’re spending, and we don’t know whether you’ll be able to pay our fee’s. Therefore, in the event that you are deemed ineligible for public funding, we prefer to charge our Clients of the basis of a “fixed fee” arrangement.
Our charges are, therefore, as follows;
|Preparatory Hearing||–||£250.00 (per hearing)|
|Trial||–||£750.00 (for first half day)
£500.00 (per half day thereafter (or part thereof))
All prices are subject to VAT.
So – for instance – if you were to attend a single preparatory hearing, further to which you were to attend at trial (which was to last less than half a day), your costs would be £1,000.00 plus VAT. This fee would include all our time attending upon you, corresponding with you and others, and preparing your case.
In the unusual event that no hearing takes place between the date upon which you instruct us and the date upon which the case concludes, the charge will be equal to our minimum charge of £250.00 plus VAT.
If your case requires us to pay any disbursements, for example, experts fee’s or counsel’s fee’s, these fee’s will be separate to our own. However, naturally, such expenses will be discussed with you before they are incurred.
It is very important that you note that we will be unable to represent you at a hearing unless we have received monies, equal to that particular hearing fee, in advance of the hearing itself.
Any monies received from you on account of costs will be held to your order, in our “Client Account”, until such time as costs have been incurred by us and an invoice has been forwarded to you in respect of the same. Such an invoice will be forwarded after each hearing. At the end of your case we will forward to you a final bill of costs, and any outstanding monies will be returned to you.
Representation at the Crown Court
If your case is transferred to the Crown Court for trial, you will automatically qualify for legally aided representation once you have completed an application form. After you have been means tested, you may have to pay towards the cost of your defence. This could be from your income while the case is on-going and/or from your capital, if you are convicted.
You will be asked to provide evidence of your income and assets. If you do not, your payments could be increased which would result in you paying more towards your defence costs. If you do not tell the truth on your legal aid application about your income, assets and expenditure you could be prosecuted.
You will not have to pay towards the costs of your case if you are under 18 when you make your application or if you receive any of the following benefits: income support, income-based jobseeker’s allowance, guaranteed state pension credit or income related employment and support allowance.
You may have to pay towards the costs if your monthly disposable income is above a certain level. If this is the case, you will receive a Contribution Order from the Court and you will have to make payments as required under the Order. The first payment will be due within 28 days of your case being committed, sent or transferred for trial.
You must tell the Court about any changes to your financial circumstances during your case because a change may affect the amount you have to pay towards your defence costs. If you don’t think you can afford to pay, or you think that a mistake has been made, you can ask for a review of the amount the Court has told you to pay.
In the event that you do not wish to apply for a Representation Order, or the level of the Contribution Order is such that it would be impractical to do so, you may retain our services on a “Private” basis.
In a similar manner to our charges at the Magistrates Court, our charges in the Crown Court are calculated on the basis of fixed fee’s as opposed to our calculating charges in accordance with an hourly rate. We would be happy to provide any further information as to our fixed fee’s upon request.
Orders as to Costs
If it is necessary for you to meet our fees on a Private basis, and you are ultimately acquitted, you may apply for a Defence Costs Order. Should such an Order be granted, you would be entitled to apply for the recovery of a proportion of the fee’s paid towards the costs of your Defence. Please be aware – you are unlikely to recover the full amount of the costs incurred following a Governmental decision in 2012 that costs may only be recovered at Legal Aid Rates (whatever they may be from time to time) following the grant of a Defence Costs Order. I am afraid we are unable to meet any shortfall that may exist on your behalf. Should you require further information as to what the Legal Rates are, please ask, and we would be happy to provide this information to you.
If you are found guilty, you may have to pay towards your defence costs from any capital assets you may have. This would only apply if:
- you have £30,000 or more of assets, for example: savings, equity in property, shares or Premium Bonds; and
- any payments you have already made have not covered your total defence costs.
You will be told at the end of your case if you have to make a payment from capital.
It is important you are aware that there are certain circumstances where you may be liable for another parties’ costs, for instance, a contribution towards the prosecutions costs in the event of you being convicted of a criminal offence.
You will appreciate that it is difficult to estimate exactly what such costs may be but if you wish please feel free to ask and we will do our very best to give you a rough estimate of what we think you are likely to have to pay in that eventuality.