Solicitor & Own Client Assessments
Solicitor & Own Client Assessments can rapidly become acrimonious and expensive. Thanks to the vast experience the Aestima team has in solicitor and own client assessments, we can advise as to the likely quantum value and outcome of the Solicitors Act proceedings. A sizeable amount of time can be saved by allowing Aestima to prepare the original invoice to the client and advising on recoverability. This not only frees up fee earner time but a well prepared invoice may result in such disputes being avoided.
Preparing Solicitor & Own Client Bills of Costs
Aestima can save you money by preparing client invoices on your behalf, freeing-up fee earners time to concentrate on remunerative work. We will also advise as to the areas which should not be passed on to the clients, helping to avoid disputes and maintaining good relationships. This service can be supplied from your office, to ensure a team approach.
Preparing Breakdown of Solicitor & Own Client Bill
Through considerable experience in preparing the special format of breakdown (costs Precedent P) required for detailed assessment pursuant to the Solicitors Act, we ensure the breakdown supports the bill. We will also advise on areas that are vulnerable to reductions and disallowance, maximising the chances of success. Accuracy and reasonableness is crucial here to ensure a smooth process in recovering costs and avoiding an order being made for you to pay the costs of the entire process.
Advising on the Solicitor & Own Client Costs
We provide practical advice to assist our clients in determining whether or not proceedings under the Solicitors Act should be commenced. Our experience in dealing with these proceedings means that we can also advise as to any issues regarding terms of engagement for you or your client.
Undertaking Inspection of Solicitors Files
As specialists in the area, we have expertise in inspecting the files of the solicitor. This is often required on behalf of the party opposing costs in the Solicitors Act proceedings.
Auditing of Files
We have vast experience in undertaking audits of files and bills of panel solicitors submitted to insurers (or other organisations). We do this in order to assess the reasonableness of the fees billed and the value for money provided, ensuring our clients are not paying excessive fees.
Preparing Points of Dispute to Breakdown (Precedent P)
Our technical expertise extends to disputing costs claimed in Solicitors Act proceedings, so as to increase the chances of the client successfully reducing the claim by more than one fifth. This ensures the claiming solicitor pays the costs of the proceedings. We also provide expert advice as to the likely outcome of the assessment proceedings, ensuring only valid points are taken.
Preparing Replies to Points of Dispute
Replies will be prepared by the same law costs consultant who prepared the breakdown of costs, thus utilising their detailed knowledge of the case. They will advise as to any appropriate concessions to be made and as to the likely outcome of the proceedings, in terms of quantum. This advice will be well considered and give an accurate analysis of the situation.
The same law costs consultant can conduct advocacy at a hearing on your behalf, combining a long, practical experience of conducting Solicitors Act assessments with their knowledge of the case. This continuity ensures the best outcome for our clients, as their case will be expertly argued on their behalf.
We were instructed to challenge substantial fees rendered to the client by a top 100 law firm in a commercial dispute. The relevant papers were inspected and points of dispute were then prepared. These included a number of technical issues in relation to the terms of engagement and the termination of the retainer.
The case then proceeded to a detailed assessment hearing pursuant to the Solicitors Act 1974, which concluded on favourable terms, reflecting a reduction of more than 20% to the disputed invoices.
Hints & Tips
In the event your client is disputing legal costs being claimed by previous solicitors, it is essential to exclude from the Solicitors Act proceedings any items accepted, i.e. disbursements or Counsel’s fees. Failure to accept these costs will result in it being extremely difficult, if not unlikely, that the breakdown will be reduced by one fifth. This will result in the client having to pay the costs of the Solicitors Act assessment.